The Clemson men’s soccer team had a tough assignment Friday and it was one it good not complete. The Tigers fell to No.14 Virginia, 4-1, at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson.
“I thought the guys played really hard,” said Clemson head coach Mike Noonan. “I think they played really, really well. I’m disappointed in the result, obviously. We had a bad five or six-minute period there after we equalized and you gotta give Virginia credit, they’re a good team.”
Virginia (8-1-2, 3-1-1 ACC) was the first to strike as it took the lead at the 38:31 mark. The Cavaliers’ Nathaniel Crofts delivered a ball onto the feet of forward Cabrel Happi Kamseu, who scored his fifth goal of the season for a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, the Tigers (5-6-1, 0-5 ACC) came out the gates strong. Early in the half at the 46:16 mark, Clemson’s Adrien Nunez delivered a ball outside the box to the foot of captain Tanner Dieterich. With time and room, Dietrich sent a slow roller into the bottom right corner of the net to tie the match at one.
With the game knotted at one, it was Virginia regained momentum shortly after Dieterich’s goal. At the 48:42 mark, Robin Afamefuna rocketed a free kick to the top right of the net, giving the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead.
Virginia’s momentum would not stop there.
The Cavaliers took a two goal lead at 50:08. With his second assist of the match, Crofts found Daniel Steedman five yards out from the net as Steedman buried the third goal of the game for the visitors.
Missed opportunities were the theme for the Tigers on Friday as they couldn’t find ways to finish. With 32 minutes left in the match, forward Kimarni Smith had an opportunity in the box, but he flew the ball over the crossbar.
“I thought Kimarni could have taken another touch and gotten a better shot off,” Noonan said. “Tanner, put the ball right on Kimarni’s head on the back post and that should be a goal.”
Virginia continued their run as it scored its third unanswered goal at the 59:32 mark. Daryl Dike found the ball on his feet just inside of the box. He delivered a shot that hit a Clemson defender on its way into the net.
“I think the important thing to work on these next few days will be putting the ball on the ground and connecting our passes,” Noonan said. “We talked about that at halftime and I thought that because of the style that Virginia plays it’s a very difficult thing to do. Coastal’s the same way.”
Clemson will face Coastal Carolina at home on Tuesday.