Florida State women's soccer: Goalkeeper Cristina Roque remains unbeaten, hard to score on

Ehsan Kassim
Tallahassee Democrat

Florida State goalkeeper Cristina Roque has a pretty simple philosophy in the goal: "Whatever happens, happens." 

Whatever that has happened has yielded positive results for the junior from Winter Garden and the Seminoles.

Following a 10-save game in a 1-0 victory No. 2 Virginia last Thursday, Roque was named the ACC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday. She has been nothing but dominant in her two and a half years with Florida State.

She has a career record of 32-0-8 and is still unbeaten through the first 40 starts of her career.

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"It's awesome," Roque said. "But also I couldn't have done it without my team. I know that everyone's seen the three shots with the five defenders behind me, but I couldn't have done it without them. So I'm just so grateful for just the team that I have and the things that they do. It's because we have each other's back."

Roque will look to continue her unbeaten record as No. 4 Florida State (9-1-2, 5-1 ACC) hosts No. 12 Duke (10-3, 5-1) at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Seminole Soccer Complex. Both teams enter the game tied atop the ACC standings.

The Seminoles are coming off their first loss of the season following a 4-0 loss to Notre Dame Sunday. The loss to the Irish snapped a 20-game unbeaten streak dating back to last season, the second longest in program history.

Mia Justus, who splits time with Roque in the goal, was the goalkeeper for the loss. 

"I think we definitely had some self reflection going on at the end of the game," Roque said. "But I know that we're strong as a team, and we just need to look at film and improve.

"And at the end game, I think we're gonna figure it out, and we're gonna be OK. We know each person has their individual jobs, but as a team, we need to come together. And that's what we're going to do."

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Career night for Roque

Entering last Thursday's contest against Virginia, Roque had collected 13 saves in her first appearances of the season. The Cavaliers were ready to test her.

The performance helped her earn Co-Defensive Player of the week, sharing that honor with Notre Dame's graduate goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood. Wood earned the shutout victory against FSU on Sunday.

"Well deserved. Well earned," FSU coach Brian Pensky said. "She was a rockstar in that game. She's been a rockstar for two and a half years here. 

"She hasn't always been called upon because this team has been so good in possession and so good in defending."

Roque has started two National Championship games for the Seminoles.

It's safe to say she's comfortable in the big stage.

"People always ask me, am I nervous? I just kind of take a deep breath, and whatever happens, happens," Roque said. "It's kind of like a weird way to put it. But I think that you just have to try your best and do what you do. And I know that my defense is going to do what they need to do. So whatever happens past that, then I just need to be there for them. It ended up working out.

FSU jumped out to a 1-0 lead within the first 45 seconds. That early goal put Virginia in attack mode the rest of the way, attempting to equalize the score.

The Cavaliers had a total of 21 shots, including seven on goal. Roque had four saves in the first half and then an additional six in the second half.

"I think it was definitely a great competition to have going into the ACC tournament and all the games that are coming up that are going to be challenging," Roque said. "I think they had a very good press and we were trying to figure it out. Because of that they were able to get a little more shots. But that also allowed us to figure out what we need to do differently for future games so that that press doesn't affect us as much as it did."

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Dominant in the goal

It's easy to see why Roque has never been beaten as the starting goalie for FSU.

This season, she has a 0.429 goals against average, the eighth-best mark in the nation. Her 0.855% on saves is also eighth in the country.

Roque's 0.51 goals against average for her career makes her the NCAA's active leader.

For first year coach Pensky, Roque makes his job easier.

"The kid has ice in her veins," Pensky said. "She's a phenomenal goalkeeper. She's relaxed, she's composed and she's poised. She proved the other night she's a great shot stopper."

Roque was the starter as a freshman for the FSU 2020 runner-up team which lost in penalty kicks to Santa Clara in the national championship game. Last season, in her second start, she made sure the Seminoles would not go down again.

Roque came up with saves on the second and fourth penalty kicks from BYU, allowing FSU to win 4-3 and collect its third national championship.

"I think it's a lot of just positioning, making sure that you're making the simple saves first," Roque said. "And then if you are to make the big saves, that's awesome, but you want to keep on the simple things first."

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Sharing the goal

Most players who are unbeaten in their career would want as much playing time as possible.

But what separates Roque is her willingness to share the job with Justus.

In seven starts this season, Roque is 5-0-2 with four shutouts and three goals allowed. Justus is 4-1 with three shutouts and five goals allowed. Four of those goals came against Notre Dame with the team traveling from Charlottesville, Va. to South Bend, In. for a short turnaround game Sunday.

"I think that it definitely keeps us on our toes," Roque said. "It's a competing position. It's a full 90 minute position. And we know that. I think that it's also allowed us to become closer just because we practice with each other. We know each other so well, that we're just able to push each other to our limits every single practice and that you can just get comfortable in your position. And I think it's definitely brought us closer together."

So close that they are ready to fight for each other?

That's what Pensky said almost happened in a game recently.

"Those two love each other and really support each other," Pensky said. "It was a couple of weeks ago when we were playing I think Clemson and Cristina kind of gets taken out when she goes up for an aerial ball and kind of lands awkwardly.

"And Mia is now standing in front of me, two feet on to the field, looking to potentially fight somebody in support of Cristina. 

"Those two are like sisters. They love each other. They cheer for each other. They push each other. And that's a tough place to be. She is 100% the competition and they both want to play all the time, but they support each other."


Who: No. 4 FSU (9-1-2, 5-1 ACC) vs. Duke (10-3, 5-1)

When/where: Thursday, 6 p.m.; Seminole Soccer Complex

TV: ACC Network

Reach Ehsan Kassim at ekassim@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Ehsan_Kassim. You can also follow our coverage on Facebook (NoleSports) and Instagram (tlhnolesports).

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