Following a tie against 23rd-ranked Florida State on Oct. 26, which left the Clemson women’s soccer team out of the ACC Tournament, the Tigers were unsure if their season would continue.
Clemson finished the regular season 9-5-3 overall, but finished ninth in the ACC and only the top 8 teams advanced to the conference tournament. Standing on the outside looking in the Tigers did not control their own destiny and had to wait almost two weeks to discover their fate.
This past Monday, Clemson learned its fate. Not only did it receive a bid to the NCAA tournament but it was selected as a host team as well.
“It’s a good feeling, a big reward for the team,” Clemson head coach Eddie Radwanski said. “This young team has done nothing but grow and we have been in every game in the most difficult conference in the country.”
Radwanski said the Tigers’ strength of schedule in conference, as well as how they played in those games, including six games against top 25 opponents helped get them in the field. They came away with a 2-2-2 record against top 25 teams.
“Our body of work earned us the right to get in the NCAA tournament and they thought it was really good and gave us an opportunity to host,” he said.
On Friday at 7 p.m., the Tigers will host Alabama (12-7-1) at Historic Riggs Field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Clemson believes the extra two weeks of preparation and rest has put it in a better position to survive and advance in the tournament.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” Radwanski said. “The most important thing for us was being in the NCAA tournament and the worst thing for us would be to go play more ACC games. The time off for recovery is going to be a huge benefit for us, we got revitalized”
A pair of Tigers earned All-ACC honors for their work in the regular season. Junior Sam Staab was named second team all-conference for her defensive efforts and Freshman Mariana Speckmaier racked up six goals, 14 points, and two assists earning All-ACC Freshman honors.
Staab and Speckmaier need to be on point for the Tigers to move on in tournament play. Radwanski sung high praises for both especially Speckmaier.
“She is a completely different player than she was at the beginning of the season and we were fortunate to get a lot of big goals from her this year,” he said.
Radwanski is confident in his bunch and knows they have what it takes.
“If our team goes out and plays anywhere close to where we are capable of playing than I like our chances in any game that we play” he said.