Corvallis, Ore. — The Clemson men’s soccer team advanced to its ninth college cup with a comeback victory against No. 1 Oregon State (14-2-4) that took penalties to decide. George Marks made two penalty saves, and his save on the Beavers’ fifth attempt ultimately sent Clemson to Cary for the semifinal. Each Tiger that stepped to the penalty spot made his attempt. The match ended 1-1 in overtime and the Tigers came out on top of the penalty shootout 4-3.
With just six minutes left in the match, the Tigers seemed to be destined for a season-ending defeat, but Oskar Ågren drew a penalty which Pipe Fernandez buried into the back of the net, sending Clemson to its second overtime match of the NCAA Tournament.
After a steady Oregon State attack in the first 30 minutes of the match, the Beavers got on the board when a corner kick found the head of Sofiane Djeffal. There was controversy as to whether or not George Marks stopped the ball before it crossed the goal line, but the effort was ruled a goal.
Clemson gathered some momentum in its pursuit of an equalizer. A few set pieces provided opportunities for the Tigers to get the game’s second goal, but they were unable to convert. Notably, a free kick just inches outside the penalty area was blocked by the wall, and the Tigers went into the second half still searching for a shot on target. Oregon State earned six corners to Clemson’s three in the first frame.
The Tigers continued pushing in the second half to find the equalizer. Clemson seized its best opportunity of the match in the 85th minute as senior Oskar Ågren drew a foul in the Oregon State penalty box. Senior midfielder Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador calmly walked up to the spot and crushed the ball into the upper left corner of the net to push the Tigers to overtime.
Freshman Tim Ströbeck took a dangerous shot on goal in the final minute of the first overtime and 100th minute of the match, but Beaver goalkeeper Adrian Fernandez came up with the save to push the Elite Eight battle to double overtime.
The final 10 minutes were not enough for either team to score and the Tigers and Beavers went to penalty kicks.
Senior goalkeeper George Marks shined yet again in the net, coming up huge for the Tigers and saving two of the Beaver’s penalty kicks while Isaiah Reid, Oskar Ågren, Hamady Diop and Justin Malou were all perfect from the penalty spot. Both of Marks’s saves came on diving efforts to the senior keeper’s right-hand side.
“Incredibly happy and proud of the team,” says Head Coach Mike Noonan. “Oregon State is a quality team that was deserving of the #1 ranking. We got stronger as the game went on, and I felt it fitting that we prevailed to advance. We spoke all week about doing something very hard. Trust, belief in each other and hard work carried the Tigers tonight. We couldn’t be happier to represent Clemson and the ACC in this year’s College Cup.”
Up next, Clemson will head to the College cup for the ninth time in school history and take on ACC foe Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament semifinal on December 10. The match will be broadcast on ESPNU and will kickoff at either 6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.
Photo courtesy Clemson Athletics