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Clemson men’s soccer ends regular season with loss, must improve in postseason

The Clemson Tigers men’s soccer team finished the regular season with a record of 11-4-0 and a top-ten national ranking. While the Tigers did not end the regular season the way they had hoped after suffering a home loss to Louisville on Friday night, they still had a very successful and promising regular season. 

The match Friday night against Louisville was another frustrating loss as the Tigers dominated Louisville for most of the match. The Tigers racked up 21 shots and 11 corner kicks compared to only five shots and one corner kick for Louisville. While the Tigers pressured Louisville all night long, the constant attack did not translate to goals for the team. The Tigers will look to use this game as a learning experience and rebound before postseason play begins

next week. 

The 2017 regular season came with some monumental highs and some crushing lows for the Tigers. Clemson dominated No. 3 Duke on the road after Diego Campos put together one of the best performances of the college season by scoring a hat trick against one of the nation’s most prolific defensive units. The Tigers also thrashed their in-state rival South Carolina by a score of 4-1 in front on their home fans on Sept. 1. 

With these great victories came some crushing defeats. The Tigers lost all four of their matches by a single goal, and three of the four decisive goals came in either the second half or in extra time. 

While the Tigers suffered four disappointing losses, there are many positive takeaways from each of them. The Tigers proved that they can compete with any team in the nation when they took No. 2 Wake Forest into overtime on the road. The Tigers seemingly dominated the matches against Notre Dame and Louisville, both teams ranked in the top ten, but they lacked the finishing touch in both matches. The Tigers were faced with one of, if not the most challenging schedules in the nation this season, and the road to a championship is not going to be getting any easier from here. In order for the Tigers to make a deep run this postseason, they will have to do more than compete with these talented teams; they will have to find ways to win. 

The Tigers got some outstanding individual performances this season from players like Diego Campos (nine goals) and Jason Wright (seven goals), but for the most part, their offensive success was a team effort. Unlike many top teams, the Tigers did not look to one player to score a majority of their goals. Without a top ten goal scorer, the Tigers had goal contributions from twelve different players this season. The Tigers style of play consisting of possession and one-touch passing in the offensive zone allowed chances to pop up for many different players. Seeing the Tigers struggle to possess the ball has been a rarity this season, and even in their losses they seemed to be the team that had a higher quantity of chances. 

In order for the Tigers to compete for a championship this year, they will have to find a way to execute on more of these chances.

The defensive unit for the Tigers has been a strong point all season. The Tiger defense has matched up against some of the best attacking players in the nation this year, and there was never a time that they allowed these talented players to dominate them. The Tiger defensive unit did well enough to keep them in the game and gave the team a chance to win. 

The defense never conceded more than two goals in regulation play, and they held opponents to one goal or less in twelve of their fifteen matches. With the Tigers’ identity being a team that possesses the ball in the opponent’s territory for most of the game, the Tiger defense often found themselves in a supporting role providing options for the midfielder to pass back to. 

The only time they looked vulnerable this season was when the opposing team created a fast break on a counter-attack. This vulnerability was exposed Friday night when the two Louisville goals came on plays that were generated on a counter-attack. These goals were especially deflating because after several minutes of pressure on the opponent, the Tigers found themselves down a goal. The Tiger defense will look to improve on this weakness and limit the amount of opportunities their opponent has to counter-attack heading into the postseason. 

The Tigers’ postseason run will begin this week as the first round of the ACC tournament begins Wednesday Nov. 1. The Tigers opponent will face Syracuse at home. Clemson will look to avenge their loss in the ACC title game last season by taking home the title this year. The Tigers are as motivated as ever heading into this postseason, and they have the ability to compete with any opponent that comes their way. 


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