NEWTON, Mass. -- There will be no perfection in women's college soccer this season, but persistence is alive and well as the regular season winds to a close.
No. 1 Florida State, the nation's only unbeaten and untied team entering Thursday, saw its bid to become the first such national champion since North Carolina in 2003 end in a 3-2 loss at No. 24 Boston College. The loss dropped the Seminoles to 14-1-0 and ended several remarkable streaks.
For the first time after a shutout streak of a little more than 934 minutes, Florida State conceded a goal.
For the first time all season, Florida State conceded a goal in the second half (in this case, two goals).
For the first time since the opening hour of its opening game at Minnesota, Florida State trailed an opponent.
"I thought the better team won tonight," Florida State coach Mark Krikorian said. "I thought Boston College was better than we were, they competed harder than we did. I don't think we were as good passing, receiving the ball, keeping the ball as we need to be. I think it's quite simple: You need to go out and you need to compete and show that you're prepared to battle in games of this magnitude."
Boston College (10-5-2) put Florida State under pressure early -- unfamiliar territory for the visitors, who are used to winning the possession battle. Time and again, Eagles sophomore forward Stephanie McCaffrey got behind Florida State on the left side and found space to cut back and bring the ball toward the middle of the 18-yard box. Her forays initially fizzled there, one touch too many taken or a shot saved by Kelsey Wys. And a familiar script seemed at hand when the Seminoles opened the scoring on Kristin Grubka's header off a Carson Pickett corner kick in the 37th minute.
But McCaffrey and the Eagles kept coming. Four minutes later, her cross from the left side fell perfectly to Kate McCarthy, whose shot from 10 yards beat Wys. And midway through the second half, McCaffrey found herself in the right place at the right time to finish Victoria DiMartino's second assist of the night.
Boston College has one player in Kristen Mewis who isn't out of place in any women's soccer game anywhere in the world. To reach its potential, and regain the top-five ranking it held earlier this season, it needs another presence alongside her, as it had when it made it to the College Cup in 2010.
With nine goals and six assists this season and nights like this on her résumé, McCaffrey looks tantalizingly close to being that player. Boston College coach Alison Foley spotted a potential weak spot for the Seminoles in outside back Ines Jaurena's tendency to push deep into the attack. In McCaffrey, she had a player who could probe that vulnerability.
"This year she's definitely using her speed and her skill better than I've ever seen her use it before in my entire life," Mewis said of her friend and fellow Massachusetts native. "She can just speed by defenders, she can place balls perfectly, like she did to Kate McCarthy. When she plays with confidence and when she plays with heart and works so hard, she's one of the best players on the field all the time."
All of which set up Mewis to do what stars are supposed to do in such games. With the clock ticking down toward 10 minutes remaining, and Florida State showing signs of pushing on for an equalizer, the senior All-American settled a ball from well beyond the edge of the box and blasted a left-footed shot that gave Wys no chance at all to make a save.
"I just saw my opportunity," Mewis said of a world-class finish. "I had a little bit of space in front of me, and I had to beat one player, and then I just knew if I could get a good shot with my left foot that hopefully it would go in."
Florida State will be fine. As close to scoreboard perfection as it came during the shutout streak, it also found itself in too many one-goal games. That doesn't mean it isn't still the best. It also will regain the services of midfield force Dagny Brynjarsdottir, who missed the game because of international duty for Iceland. And Maryland's loss to Miami on Thursday means the Seminoles still have control of the conference championship race.
One loss in the ACC, especially on the road, doesn't ruin a season. One win, on the other hand, may be enough to change a season. Boston College -- losers of five of six games before last weekend's 6-2 rout of NC State -- is back.
"These past couple of games we've struggled a little bit, and we kind of got down on ourselves," Mewis said. "But we knew that today had to be different in order to change our season.
"And I think that's exactly what we did tonight. We changed our season."