It was a close call for No. 2 overall seed Clemson, but the Tigers got a tight overtime victory, 2-1, over Charlotte in the second of the NCAA Tournament Sunday.
Grayson Barber punched in the game-winning goal at in overtime to send Clemson to the third round.
“Obviously we are very, very happy with the way the game ended,” Clemson head coach Mike Noonan said afterward. “I think the team played very well, but unfortunately when the team could have scored five goals in the match, you’ve got to stay onside.
“I was really happy with the response the team had after they scored and I’m really happy with the way they played. Charlotte has a very good team, but I think on the right day, the better team won.”
Clemson opened up the match attacking from all angles, sending six shots on target, but was unable to capitalize in the first half. There were many opportunities missed for the Tigers as well, as they had three would-be-goals called back om offside calls.
“It’s hard to speak about the offside calls because I haven’t seen them on film,” Noonan said. “I don’t know whether they were on or off but I have to trust the linesman was right. The play and the creation in the final third to create those three opportunities was fantastic though. Sometimes you push that line a little and they judged us to be offside.”
With nine total shots in the first half and three goals taken from the Tigers, it was only a matter of time before the Clemson front line broke down the 49ers’ defense.
Clemson scored its first goal of the match early in the second half at 53:36. After receiving a pass from Alvaro Gomez near the top of the box, Robbie Robinson faked touch forward and spun past his defender tracking the ball closely. After whisking past two more defenders, he sent a rocket into the top right of the net giving the ACC Player of the Year his 16th goal this season.
“I’m really happy with the win but I’m also disappointed that we didn’t beat this team by four or five goals,” Robinson said. “I think we could have beaten this team easily. I just go out and I love playing soccer. I just want to win and help my team win. I’ll do anything to make that happen.”
After maintaining the lead for nearly 20 minutes, Charlotte found its way onto the scoreboard midway through the second half. At 72:32 in the match after a throw in, recently subbed in Preston Popp controlled the throw in and barley squeezed the ball past George Marks and into the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1.
At 93:11 Barber sealed the Tigers victory and advancement the Tigers to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s a great feeling to get the game winning goal,” Barber said. “We deserved it earlier in the game I feel like but just being able to put it in the back of the net and send us on to the next round is a great feeling.”
The Clemson men’s soccer team will be home at Historic Riggs Field for their next match at a time and date to be announced later.