The Clemson women’s soccer team came from behind to beat Alabama 2-1 at Historic Riggs’ field on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The win advances the Tigers to the second round of the tournament where they will travel to Texas, a 3-0 winner over North Texas in the first round. The location and date of the match is to be determined, and will be finalized after the first-round match between Duke and UNC Greensboro on Saturday
“First off I want to to give Wes Hart and his staff a lot of credit” Clemson head coach Eddie Radwanski said afterward. “They came out and made this a tough game for us. They are a very good team and they played a tough game.
“We have a lot of respect for Alabama. This is a team that knocked off Florida State and one point in the season so they had our respect right from the get-go. There was no looking past this team, we didn’t believe it was going to be an easy game. We knew it was going to be this type of game.”
After a scoreless first half, the Crimson Tide took the lead on a goal scored by Casey Wertz at 68:00. The goal was assisted by Emma Welch, leading to an easy three-yard chip in for Wertz.
The Tigers were not silenced so easily. Four minutes later at 72:04, Clemson found the equalizer. Jenna Polonsky delivered a ball to Mariana Speckmaier which led to her blasting one past the keeper from eight-yards out.
“You don’t take wins for granted in the NCAA tournament” said Radwanski. “At the end of the day this is a knockout competition and for our kids to be able to get the win, that’s the most important thing that happened today.
“You gotta give out kids a little bit of credit. I give them mire credit because they fell behind. I like the resiliency I saw with our response especially with the first goal coming from Mariana.”
Shortly after, Clemson was able to put in another and seal their victory. At 77:02, Sam Staab sent in a corner that found the head of Dani Antieau. With practically no angle hugging the left side post, Antieau was able to sneak the ball past Alabama’s keeper.
“We’re used to going on the road,” Radwanski said. “We’ve done it in the ACC and we’ve done it in the non-conference. Assuming Duke holds their serve tomorrow, which it is more likely they will, we’ll be heading towards them but they still have to finish off their game.
“Whatever it is that we have to do, it is something we’ve already done. That’s part of my message today. We don’t have to do anything different, we just need to continue doing the things we’re doing. In the NCAA tournament it’s moments and it’s how you handle those moments.”