The Clemson women’s soccer team faced off against Northeastern University on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers earned a three seed in the tournament and hosted the first round contest at Historic Riggs Field. This is the second year in a row the team has earned a spot in the tournament. Last year they lost in the second round to Ole Miss after beating Furman in the first round. This year they will look to improve on that performance, especially after a disappointing loss to Florida State in the ACC Semifinals earlier
Sunday was the first step for them. The first half started slowly for both teams but Clemson had the edge in shots taken 9-5 but each team only had one shot on goal. The Tigers had a couple of dangerous chances on set pieces but none of them found the net. Those plays also led to a couple of Northeastern counter attacks that almost caught Clemson off guard, since they like to bring a lot of numbers forward on set pieces. The defense was able to step up and hold off the counters which kept the score level at 0-0 going into the half.
Clemson’s offense is known for its explosiveness and for the variety of its attacks. That unit was kept quiet in the game against Florida State as well as the first half of this match. It was only a matter of time until they found their rhythm again and that moment game in the 61st minute when Shannon Horgan scored off an assist from Emily Byorth.
Horgan is known for her prowess out wide and she launched a shot from 28-yards out, over the keeper’s head to score and give Clemson a 1-0 lead they would not surrender.
Northeastern was held largely in check for the rest of the game as the Tiger’s defense gave up only two shots in the second half, only one of which forced a save from senior goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. Sam Staab, Claire Wagner and Emily and Gabby Byorth played an excellent game defensively and did a nice job containing some of the faster players for Northeastern.
The Tigers are unbeaten at home this season, posting a 10-0-2 record at Historic Riggs Field. North Carolina is hosting the second and third rounds of the tournament between Nov. 18-20. The Tigers will travel to Chapel Hill to face Arkansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas is 18-5 and defeated Memphis 2-1 in their first round game.
Also on Sunday, the men’s soccer team competed in the ACC Championship game in Charleston against Wake Forrest. The Tigers earned a spot in the championship by defeating Boston College 1-0 in the semifinal game at Riggs Field. Wake Forrest defeated Louisville 2-1 in their semifinal matchup.
The first half was a disaster for Clemson. In the 24th minute, Wake Forrest took the first shot of the game and found the back of the net to take an early 1-0 lead. The Tigers began to find some force in their attacking third but were burned on a counter attack from the Demon Deacons. A 2-0 deficit was bad enough but Wake wasn’t done yet. In the closing moments of the first half, they added another goal to take a 3-0 lead into the half.
After the half, the Demon Deacons were content to sit back and defend their 3-0 lead. The Tigers were able to claw back one goal in the 61st minute off a penalty kick from Tanner Dieterich. The damage in the first half was too much to overcome and the Tigers fell 3-1 as Wake Forrest claimed the ACC Title.
A combination of poor defense and stifled offense was the story of the game. All season the Tiger defense has looked shaky on counters and that was the case again on Sunday. Sophomore goalkeeper Ximo Miralles was forced to come out and attempt to cut down shot angles which allowed the Wake Forrest forwards the chance to have an open net to shoot at.
Wake’s defense did a great job of neutralizing the Clemson attack. Some of the best chances came midway through the first half but were cleared each time before Clemson could get a decent shot off.
Clemson’s season isn’t over yet. They will be one of the 48 teams selected for the NCAA Tournament, it is just a matter of where they end up. The selection show is Monday, November 14 at 1 p.m.