Clemson football isn’t the only team at Clemson with a matchup against rival South Carolina this week.
The third-ranked soccer team beat the Gamecocks, 2-1, in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday when Alex Happi volleyed his second goal of the game into the back of the net just 2:41 into overtime at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson.
Clemson now advances to the third round of the NCAA Men’s College Cup where it will face No. 14 Albany next Sunday at Historic Riggs Field.
Both teams played the first half tight with both controlling almost equal amounts of time of possession. Clemson took six shots to South Carolina’s seven shots. Going into halftime, neither the Gamecocks or the Tigers seemed ready to step up and takeover the game.
Clemson (13-3-5) came out of the half firing on all cylinders, ultimately taking 11 more shots in the second half. The game was in gridlock until the Gamecocks went up 1-0 on a Clemson “own” goal with 17:15 left.
The Tigers kept their composure and tied it up when Happi, a senior, took advantage of a ball bouncing around the top of the box, before putting it in the top corner of the net with 4:35 left in the match.
Happi put the game away just 2:41 into overtime when he volleyed his second goal of the game into the net. It was just his third goal of the season. While Happi took the spotlight for his two goals, he says he attributes Clemson’s success to its team-first mentality.
“For us it’s not about who gets what, but how we get it as a team” he said.
Clemson head coach Mike Noonan said he was not worried when his team went down with only 15 minutes left.
“Our team has done this all year,” he said. “They are resilient, they are relentless and tonight someone in the Clemson shirt got it done.”
Although the Tigers only converted two of their 18 shots in the back of the net, and accidentally scored an their own goal, Noonan was impressed by his team.
“The thing I was most impressed with was that when we went down one-nil, they kept their composure and they kept at it,” he said.
While Clemson celebrates its win over South Carolina, Noonan is already preparing another tough test against Albany.
“We certainly have a great deal respect for the University of Albany. We’re happy we’re home, but we’ve got another fight on our hands next week and we’re looking forward to having even more Clemson people in the stands,” he said.
The Albany game kicks off at 6 p.m. next Sunday.