Clemson men’s soccer team handled its business yet again on Friday as the seventh-ranked Tigers easily defeated No.15 Duke by a score of 3-1 at Historic Riggs Field.
“This team is living in the moment,” Clemson head coach Mike Noonan said. “I told the guys at the beginning of the year that my favorite team is a hunger driven team, well this team is full of PhDs. They want to learn, they want to keep getting better and that makes a big difference. They’re not satisfied, they stay grounded and they come to work every day. It’s all the cliched and intangible things.”
It was Clemson (7-0, 2-0 ACC) who opened up the scoring Friday as sophomore forward James Brighton scored his first goal of the season. At the 24:32 mark in the match, coming off an assist from Justin Malou, Brighton finished the easy opportunity one-on-one with the keeper using his head to finish, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Clemson did not give up the lead from there in arguably its most impressive offensive performance of the season.
The Tigers’ strong night continued as Grayson Barber scored the team’s second goal of the night at 52:10. After a relentless barrage of attack with multiple shots being taken, Adrien Nunez had an outstanding effort in the box getting his foot on a loose ball. With a quick tap delivering the ball to the middle of the box, Barber took a one timer launching the ball into the back of the net, furthering the Clemson lead.
After Clemson took a commanding lead, the match between the two ACC powerhouses got chippy, resulting in a double red card. At 64:30, the Tigers’ leading scorer, Barber, got in a physical altercation with Duke’s Ian Murphy. After fists were thrown from both sides, both players were ejected with red cards. Clemson will have to make do in its next game without Barber as the red card also implements a one game suspension as well.
“We’ve got a lot of options,” Noonan said. “There’s a lot of really talented young players that haven’t had a chance to play and a ton of skilled older guys too. We’re gonna need that depth throughout the course of the season.”
Duke found its way on to the scoreboard at 85:22, with a solid goal of its own. After multiple passes heading towards the box, Daniele Prosch finished for his 6th goal of the season.
Just as fast as the Blue Devils added their first and only goal of the night, Clemson leading scorer Kimarni Smith responded. Just 14 seconds later, Kimarni took a solo run to the house, calmly finishing and gathering his eighth goal of the season. That gave the Tigers their 3-1 final margin.
“Scoring goals in soccer is not easy and we’re doing it at a very high level right now,” Noonan said. “It doesn’t come easy. You need to keep challenging yourself. I actually challenged the forwards today saying ‘you’ve scored 24 goals this season but you haven’t scored with your head yet.’ So what do they do? They go out and score the first goal with their head.”
The Tigers will visit Furman Tuesday night in Greenville, South Carolina.
—Photo courtesy Clemson Athletic Communications
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