The Clemson men’s soccer team handed Villanova its first loss of 2018 on Monday night at Historic Riggs Field, as the Tigers earned a 2-0 victory in the two teams’ first-ever meeting.
With the win, Clemson’s third straight, the Tigers improved to 3-1-0 on the year, while the Wildcats moved to 3-1-0 as well.
“We were very good in the first half,” said Clemson head coach Mike Noonan. “But we had some things we can work on from the second half. We were young in the second half in terms of being able to follow through. But in the first half, I was very proud of them…coming off of the big South Carolina win, as a coach, you’re concerned with the potential for an emotional dip, but our guys handled it really well. Again, it was the leadership of the older guys preparing the younger guys. You only get one home opener, and I think they passed it well.”
The Tigers took an early lead in the 16thminute on Kimarni Smith’s first goal of the season, a laser from 10 yards out after a Chris Matlashewski cross from the right side, good for Matlashewski’s first assist as a Tiger. Clemson doubled its lead nine minutes later when Grayson Barber took a shot that was saved by the Wildcat keeper, but John Murphy Jr. was there to capitalize on the deflection for his first goal in a Clemson uniform.
Clemson continued to hold the momentum through the remainder of the first half and throughout the second half, taking 10 of their 24 shots in the latter 45 minutes, but the Villanova keeper made six saves to keep the Clemson goal count at two.
The Tiger defense was a force all night, only allowing six total Wildcat shots and requiring Clemson keeper Jonny Sutherland to make just one save during the match as he completed his third consecutive solo shutout.
Clemson goes back on the road for a two-match stint in the Boston, Mass. area this weekend. First up is the Tigers’ ACC opener against Boston College on Friday night at 7 p.m., and then they turn around to face UMass on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.