On Nov. 8, the Clemson men’s soccer team fell to top-ranked Wake Forest in Winston Salem, N.C., ending it’s ACC tournament run in the semifinals.
Head coach Mike Noonan described the loss as “a bitter disappointment” for the Tigers.
After giving up a goal in the 79th minute in its last contest the Tigers turned their sights away from an ACC title and toward a national championship, a spot they were in just two years ago when they lost in the national championship game.
Monday, Clemson earned its fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA men’s soccer tournament as the No. 8 national seed. It is the fourth consecutive year the team has been named a national seed.
The Tigers played one of the toughest schedules in the country in the regular season and are geared up for the national tournament following a bye in the opening round with their eyes turned toward in state foe Coastal Carolina, who they will take on tonight (6 p.m.) at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson.
Clemson finished the season with an impressive résumé and a 12-5-1 including a pair of top 20 wins over sixth-ranked Duke.
Head coach Mike Noonan believes playing such a difficult schedule in the ACC has prepared his team to make a run in this year’s tournament.
“The point isn’t to schedule teams so that you go undefeated the point is to schedule teams that get you battle tested for the NCAA tournament,” he said.
The Clemson soccer program carries a rich tradition. The program has appeared in the NCAA tournament 30 times posting a 56-26-6 record with a pair of national championships.
Under Noonan’s direction the Tigers have qualified for the tournament each of his five years with a national seed each year.
He understands the rich history of the Clemson program and gives credit to his seniors for what they have accomplished already.
“I was really proud for our seniors because all four years they have been here they earned a national seed” he said. “It validates a very good career for those guys.”
One of those seniors, all-ACC selection Diego Campos, has had a tremendous year on the field. He leads the team in goals with 10, assists with eight, and points with 28.
Noonan is proud of how Campos has produced on the field this season, but says his contribution to the Tiger team goes much further than goals.
“His skills are on display and everybody can see that, but his passion for the game and willingness to try and make others work as hard and care as much as he does” he said.
Coastal Carolina knocked off Southern Conference champion Mercer Thursday night to advance and face the Tigers on Sunday. Clemson is very familiar with the Chanticleers having played them several times over the last few years.
“It’s going to be a real test on Sunday, for two teams that are familiar with each other. Whoever plays their game best is probably going to come out on top.”