Thanks to two early goals from Diego Campos, No. 5 Clemson had very little trouble with Radford in a 2-1 victory at Historic Riggs Field on Sunday. However, the Tigers did provide the 1,231fans at Riggs a little angst at the end of the match.
After a sloppy start to the game for both teams, Campos was able to find the back of the net on a low cross from teammate Grayson Raynor at 35:49. It was Campos’s first goal of the season, but he wasn’t done.
Shortly after Campos claimed his brace at the 39:30-mark of the half. The Highlanders committed a foul in the box and Clemson’s leading scorer from last season was able to bury a penalty kick into the back of the net. The Tigers gained full momentum from his second goal and was able to take control on both sides of the field.
Clemson (2-0) entered the second half with the same tenacity but little result from the effort. Radford looked more composed on the offensive end rather and was able to get the Tigers running on defense.
“To be honest with you I think that we played exceptionally well in the first half,” Clemson head coach Mike Noonan said. “You pay money to see the goals we scored. It was really, really good.”
Campos had an impressive showing of two goals. Not only did he have two goals, but he had an impressive four shots on goal. Campos found a comfort in the game that gave Tiger fans a glimpse of what they saw last season from the forward.
Cale Thorne got the start at left-back for Clemson and performed well, gaining praise from his head coach.
“Andrew Burnikel can play in the back and play in the midfield and because Ollie (Shannon) and Tanner (Dieterich) had run so much on Friday night, I needed Andrew as cover for them in the midfield so we needed someone to play in the back,” Noonan said. “Cale is also left sided, so we figured we’d have a lot of the ball and we needed his angles for passing the ball. I think he played exceptionally well. He needs to work on a few things defensively but in terms of with the ball I thought he was excellent.”
Ximo Miralles found little action in the first half but saw the opposite in the second. The Clemson keeper was able to stay composed and led his back four. Unfortunately, for Miralles and the Clemson back line Radford was able to put in a goal in the last three minutes of the game.
Radford’s Kieran Roberts netted his third goal of the season at 86:52. Noonan says his players have to get mentally tougher at the end of matches and do a better job of closing them out.
“It’s not something I do as a coach it’s what they do as players,” the Clemson coach said. “They have to hold each other accountable for their performance. Their performance in the first half needs to be the same as in the second half and the level they play at they need to hold each other accountable to continue to play at that level.”
“All my job is as a coach is to draw it to their attention and make sure that they are aware of it. I can’t do anything about that, they have to do something about that.”
The Tigers’ domination of the first half was the highlight of the game for the team. The half was impressive enough to gain high praise from Noonan.
“What I was really proud of for them is that Radford was very organized, right? And the guys kept the ball and they were patient,” said Noonan. “Then as the half wore on you could see us coming into the game and then we started cutting into them a little bit.
“We were just missing and then boom, you get those two goals going into halftime.”
This is the third year in a row Clemson has started a season with back-to-back victories, showing the continuous consistency the program has become accustomed to.
The Tigers next game will be against rival South Carolina. The match is part of a double header with the women’s team on Friday. The match is set to start at 7:30 p.m.