The No.2 Clemson men’s soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament with a 3-0 win over Notre Dame Sunday at Historic Riggs field in Clemson.
“The message was all positive heading into the second half,” said Clemson head coach Mike Noonan. “We played well in the first half we just didn’t score. We told them to get some shots on target, we only had two in the first half but we told them more of the same. A couple of little things we wanted them to do but we told them to just keep going and have that patience urgency, they’ll break at some point.”
Clemson started off the match hot, creating multiple shots on target early in the half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. After slowing down as the half progressed, the Tigers entered halftime tied at 0-0 with Notre Dame.
However, Clemson was the stronger team in the half with 14 shots in comparison to the Irish’s four and eight corners to one in favor of the Tigers.
Clemson scored their first goal of the match early in the second half at 53:21. After receiving a chip pass from captain Tanner Dietrich inside the box, freshman Philip Mayaka took a touch and hammered the ball into the back of the net with his left foot. This gave Clemson the lead and ultimately their ACC quarterfinal victory.
The scoring continued for Clemson later in the second half as it scored a penalty kick at the 73:03 mark in the match. After a handball was called inside of the box, the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick and Notre Dame’s Philip Quinton was handed a red card for later complaining.
Clemson’s other captain, Malik Mbaye stepped up for Clemson to take the penalty kick, stepping up and confidently sending a rocket that went bar down and into the net.
“That’s what we do here,” Mbaye said. “When someone has to step up for a PK and put it in, that’s what we do. We do it every day after practice. We practice it so when it comes to game time we are ready.”
The Tigers were unstoppable in the second half as they scored their third goal late in the second. At 83:09 in the match, forward Grayson Barber sent a pass into the box to James Brighton. After a beautiful touch and spin around his defender, Brighton maintained possession and beat the ND keeper, putting the ball into the left side of the net and furthering Clemson’s lead to 3-0.
“Defense is something we’ve been focusing on all week,” Noonan said. “I’m very, very proud. George (Marks) came up with a huge save in the first half to keep things even and then he managed the rest of the game exceptionally well. Malik (Mbaye) Oskar (Askren) Charlie (Asensio) and Justin (Malou) were very good as a unit.”
After Sunday, the Tigers will play Pittsburgh on Wednesday at Historic Riggs Field at 6 p.m., in the ACC Semifinals.