Beata Olsson has elevated Florida State's attack during another prolific soccer season
On a team with multiple scoring threats as the Florida State soccer team tends to have year in and year out, it didn’t take Beata Olsson long to stand out.
Olsson, a sophomore forward who transferred last season from rival Florida, quickly gained the attention and respect of her teammates and coaches with her ability to turn even the unlikeliest of scoring chances into goals.
“She has a great sense for the goal and she's a really interesting player because there are some dimensions in her game,” Florida State coach Mark Krikorian said. “The goal she scored against (North) Carolina was pretty special to bring in one off the post as well. So she has a really great sense about where the goal is and a little unorthodox at times putting the ball into those dangerous spots. She’s hard working, has a professional attitude and had to get better every day.”
While FSU retained the same offensive balance it did last season on its march to the national championship game, Olsson has taken the Seminoles’ attack to a higher level.
Olsson’s 11 goals lead the team, are tied for third in the ACC, and tied for 41st nationally entering the NCAA tournament.
And they’ve often come at timely moments this season keeping Florida State on course toward another potential national title run.
The Seminoles (16-1-2), who regained the top spot in the United Soccer Coaches poll this week fresh off winning the ACC tournament for the second consecutive season, will host South Alabama in the opening round on Friday at 6 p.m.
Olsson, a member of the Swedish Under-19 national team, scored seven goals last season as a freshman for the Gators. She credits her ability to flourish this season from playing on FSU’s talented roster and around many accomplished distributors on the field.
“I feel like there's so many great players and great support around everything so it didn't take long to adjust to the playing system,” Olsson said. “Straight from the beginning almost, I felt like I knew my role thanks to good communication. I would say that they create all the chances for me. So many times goal scorers get attention, but in this case, I will say that the balls played are really good ones. It's just my job to finish it.”
Olsson wasn’t acquainted with any of her teammates at FSU before transferring to the school from Florida in the offseason.
But it didn’t take long for her to develop a rapport with a squad, which enters the NCAA tourney ranked fifth nationally in goals per game (2.89).
“I knew, of course this team was great on the field, and that's the main reason I got here, but they're even better as persons,” Olsson said. “I feel like in this team, there's so many goal scores, like everyone can score on this team. So for me, it's not really I don't feel the pressure for that. Because I know that everyone here can do it.”
Olsson said the biggest difference from playing soccer in the U.S. to Sweden is the physicality.
Olsson attended some camps early on before enrolling at Florida and quickly became acclimated to the style of play. Olsson has continued to deliver whether it’s been with goals or creating opportunities through physical matches against ACC rivals in recent weeks.
Olsson scored in FSU’s first meeting this season with South Alabama – a 4-0 Seminoles’ victory at home on Aug. 26th.
Her goal against North Carolina two weeks ago salvaged a 2-2 draw, which would go a long way toward helping the Seminoles secure a needed bye in the first round of the conference tournament.
Although she didn’t score in either of FSU’s recent matches against Virginia, she had multiple quality chances which required clutch saves from Cavaliers goalkeeper Laurel Ivory to prevent them from finding the back of the net.
“You can't play at the level that she is if she's not comfortable and she seems quite comfortable with how things have gone for her,” Krikorian said. “Her teammates all very much care for her. She cares for her teammates, and it looks to me like we have a good one.
“She's found a great playing relationship with the players that are around her, and I think that it's another dimension for our team that makes us even harder to play against.”
The road ahead
Should the Seminoles advance Friday, their next opponent will either be No. 21 Texas or No. 25 SMU next Friday in Tallahassee. The tournament bracket sets up to where FSU would not have to face No. 2 Virginia, No. 4 Duke nor No. 10 North Carolina unless they reached the College Cup, which will be played Dec. 3rd and 5th in Santa Clara, Calif.
The only ACC teams the Seminoles could play before the College Cup are N.C. State, who they have not played yet this season, and Wake Forest, who they beat 2-1 in overtime last week in an ACC semifinal.
The third round will be played on Nov. 21st and the quarterfinals will be held on Nov. 26th and 27th at the higher-seeded teams’ host sites.
Florida State is the top overall seed in the tournament, giving it home field advantage through the first four rounds.
FSU soccer vs. South Alabama
What: NCAA tournament - first round
When: Friday, 6 p.m., FSU Soccer Complex.
TV: Watch ESPN App.
Reach Andre Fernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @FernandezAndreC.
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