Winning a championship always begins with a vison. Last season the Clemson Women’s soccer program boasted its first conference championship since 2000, when the Tigers claimed a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular season title.
Head coach Eddie Radwanski believes now that his team won a title they are ready to enter phase two of his plan.
“The reality is phase one ended at the end of last season, winning an ACC championship, now we are about to begin phase two,” he said.
Radwanski is entering his seventh year at the helm of the women’s soccer program and has taken his team to three consecutive NCAA tournaments. Last year’s Sweet 16 finish is tied for the highest finish of any Tiger team and marks only the third appearance past the quarterfinals.
The Clemson coach is no stranger to winning championships. As the former coach at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, Radwanski won 11 conference championships over a 10-year period. As a player, he was a two-time All-American and a captain on two national championship squads in 1982-83. He also claimed his 200th win as a head coach over SIUE last Friday night.
Radwanski believes winning a championship starts with a championship mindset. He said, “it starts with planting that seed. There are different paths to get there, but if you don’t know how and you don’t see the picture you ain’t getting there.”
He likens his mindset to that of Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney who made similar comments early in his head coaching career.
“I think we see our games similarly and I love what he did. Early in his career, when he took over, he was thinking about winning the national championship,” said Radwanski.
While the Tigers carry a young team into the 2017 season they certainly have the pieces in place to make another run at a title this year. Clemson graduated 12 players from last season and returns a roster with 70 percent underclassmen.
Clemson is out to a strong start, ranked 13th in the last poll, as it defeated Air Force while falling in close match with ACC rival Duke, 2-1, in exhibition matches. The Tigers kicked off the regular season winning the Hoosier Cup in Bloomington, Ind., with shutout wins over SIUE and host team Indiana.
Despite their youth the Tigers’ roster is loaded with talent. They are led by preseason All-ACC selection Sam Staab. She led the conference in assists last season with 11. Graduate Jenna Polonsky leads the team in points thus far with 7 on 2 goals and 3 assists, while Freshman Mariana Speckmaier leads the goal count with 3 thanks to her hat trick on Friday night vs SIUE.
Radwanski is excited for Tiger fans to see his team in action at Riggs Field this season.
“We have added some speed and quickness and will be threatening the goal a lot more,” he said. “It is an entertaining group to watch.”
The Tigers face off against 9th-ranked Auburn in their home opener Friday night at 7:30 p.m., at Riggs Field. The top 15 matchup is one Radwanski is looking forward to.
“I like playing them because it’s a good soccer game and it puts both teams under pressure and makes us better,” he said.
–Photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications