With a National Championship on the line, eighth-seeded Clemson dominated No. 2 Washington 2-0 at WakeMed Soccer Complex in Cary, NC to earn the program’s third NCAA title, the Tiger’s first title since 1987.
Isaiah Reid showed out in a big way for the Tigers early on, scoring both of Clemson’s goals in the first fifteen minutes of the match.
“You just have to take your moments and they can happen in the first minute of the game or it can happen in the ninety-fourth minute of the game,” head coach Mike Noonan said. “When the moments come, you gotta be prepared and I think that’s the best thing about the team.”
“We told them that they needed to focus and as George [Marks] alluded to, we told them they needed to play free, and we told them they needed to have fun. Those were the three words I gave them going into the game and I think the guys had some fun today. They played free and they were focused, ready to take their moments.”
Following a costly mistake in the first minute of play by Washington goalie Sam Fowler, Reid gave the Tigers an early lead with a routine goal from the bottom right in the first twenty-seven seconds of play, good for the fastest goal scored in the ACC this season.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what was going through my head, I’m still at a loss for words right now,” Reid said. “Before the game I wanted to be able to start on the front foot and to be able to help my team and when I ran onto that ball, we started off scoring, so I’m glad it happened.”
Reid struck yet again in the fourteenth minute of play with a clutch header to put Clemson up 2-0 in the first half. With his second goal of the match, the South Carolina native became the Tiger’s leading scorer with nine goals this season.
Despite a few close calls, Clemson was able to keep the Washington Huskies at bay with a final score of 2-0 along with bringing home the National title.
Goalie George Marks had yet another stellar outing for the Tigers. The senior finished Sunday’s match with two saves and is credited with the shutout.
“I don’t think it’s really set in yet,” Marks said. “It’s almost too big of a goal to really look at, even when you say you want to win it, I don’t think you really know what that means… I think it’s going to take days and weeks to set in, but it’s unbelievable. It’s year four and it makes everything worth it. Everything was worth it before, but there’s just no words.”
With the win, Clemson finishes out the 2021 season 15-5-2 and 5-3 in ACC play, earning their fifth ever NCAA Championship berth and third National Championship in program history, the first for head coach Mike Noonan.
Photo courtesy Clemson Athletics.