Yujie Zhao rocketed home the game-winning penalty kick and Florida State edged BYU 4-3 in PKs on Monday to win its third women’s national championship in program history and second in the last four years.
“I had faith that we were going to win in the PKs,” Zhao said. “I was super, super happy.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Cristina Roque made two saves during penalty kicks for the Seminoles, who, ironically, lost last year’s national championship game in PKs.
“It feels quite nice to be sitting on this side of it,” Florida State coach Mark Krikorian said. “Last year, I thought that we were quite good and had some unfinished business that we needed to address.”
Added Roque: “Last year, it just didn’t go our way and everyone was behind me then, and I knew whatever happened this year, they were going to be behind me. I’m not going to lie, it does feel better here.”
In the first-ever meeting between the schools, No. 13 BYU and top-ranked Florida State traded chances through 90 minutes of regulation time, but neither team could break through.
The Cougars created a dangerous opportunity off a corner kick early in the first overtime, but Roque came up with one of her four saves.
Florida State had the best chance of the second overtime when Jenna Nighswonger bent a shot from just outside the box, but BYU goalkeeper Cassidy Smith smothered it for one of her two saves.
“I’m really proud of our players and our team,” BYU coach Jennifer Rockwood said. “I thought we battled hard. We were really close a few times.”
The Cougars, playing in their first-ever College Cup, outshot Florida State 10-8 through regulation and the two overtime periods. The Seminoles were playing in their 12th College Cup and sixth national championship game.
“I thought that BYU gave us everything that we could handle and I’m extremely proud of our group,” Krikorian said.
The Cougars appeared to take an early lead in the eighth minute when Cameron Tucker broke behind Seminoles’ defense and found the back of the net, but the play was ruled offside.
“I didn’t know that it was offside until I saw the ref hold her flag up,” Tucker recalled. “It was a great play and I wish I wouldn’t have been offside.”
BYU’s All-American midfielder Mikayla Colohan was carried off the field with an apparent ankle injury following a collision in the 32nd minute with Florida State’s Jaelin Howell, who was assessed a yellow card.
But Colohan, who led BYU with 18 goals and 15 assists this season, was able to return in the second half and picked up a yellow card of her own in the 79th minute.
“I didn’t know if I’d be able to return but I stood up and I definitely didn’t want to go out that way,” she said. “Luckily, my leg felt okay and I was able to finish out the game.”
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.