The Daily Nole

Hot Take Tuesday: FSU Soccer Will Repeat as National Champions

Larry Novey/FSU athletics

The first athletic event of the new academic year in Tallahassee will take place in just more than two weeks as Florida State soccer plays its first game as reigning 2018 national champions against TCU on Aug. 22.

Last season, the Seminoles made an improbable run through the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. In the College Cup, FSU ended Stanford’s 45-match unbeaten streak and defeated North Carolina in a championship contest for the second time in less than a month.

In 2018, a disappointing conference slate made the Seminoles settle for the No. 7 seed in the ACC before closing the year on a 9-match winning streak. FSU will make it a little easier on itself this season, but the end result will be the same.

In 2019, Florida State will become the first women’s soccer team to repeat as national champions since Notre Dame in 2009 and 2010. It will be the first FSU program to repeat since men’s outdoor track and field won three straight titles from 2006-08, although the middle championship was later vacated. The only FSU women’s team to go back-to-back was softball when it did so as an AIAW slowpitch program in 1981 and 1982.

Deyna Castellanos, a senior forward, and Yujie Zhao, a sophomore midfielder, each return after combining for about 31 percent of FSU’s total points last season. In total, the Seminoles return five of their top seven scorers from last season.

Defender Natalia Kuikka and postseason hero Dallas Dorosy will be tough to replace, but the Seminoles have a stellar incoming freshman class including Heather Payne and Leilannia Nesbeth. The Seminoles also add LSU transfer and 2018 SEC All-Freshman honoree Abbey Newton. Newton may have to sit a season.

FSU will also return not one, but two goalkeepers in Brooke Bollinger and Caroline Jeffers. Jeffers took over in the ACC Tournament after Bollinger went down with a season-ending injury. The two combined to allow less than a half-goal per game and to tally 15 shutouts.

Of the teams to reach the College Cup last season, the Seminoles are the only ones to return their starting goalkeeper. Georgetown and North Carolina are also losing their leading scorers from 2018.

Last week, the Seminoles had more players place on the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list than any other school. The trophy is the highest honor in college soccer. Joining Castellanos and Zhao on the list were midfielder Jaelin Howell and junior defender Malia Berkely.

The slate for FSU will be a difficult one as 11 of the Seminoles’ 18 regular season opponents reached the NCAA Tournament last year. The ACC is also considered the best conference in the country.

The tough slate should build FSU’s RPI and give it an opportunity to host up until the College Cup. The Seminoles haven’t lost an NCAA Tournament match at home since 2009.

Given what it has coming back, what others have lost and an opportunity to be battle-tested come November, there is a very good chance that FSU will again be holding college soccer’s ultimate prize. It is our contention that will be the case for the second season in a row.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply