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Women’s soccer looks to regain momentum

The Clemson Tigers women’s soccer team is trying to regain their early season form after a tough stretch of play. 

The Tigers are currently ranked 30th in the nation with a 7-3-1 record, which could label them as a contender for the ACC championship. The Tigers have six games remaining in the regular season, four of which will be played at Historic Riggs Field. Clemson will look to finish what has been a solid season on a high note before postseason play begins.  

The highlight of the Tigers’ season thus far has been the very first match, where they defeated Auburn, who was ranked No. 20 at the time, by a score of 2-1 in double overtime in front of their home crowd. Clemson rode the momentum from this victory to a scorching 6-0 start to the season. 

However, this momentum has recently come to a screeching halt as the Tigers have gone 1-3-1 in their last five matches. The Tigers have experienced a rollercoaster of a season that has seen them reach as high as No. 4 in the nation to as low as their current ranking of No. 30.

While the team’s record in recent games doesn’t look pretty, they have been on the losing end of some close games against some very good teams. 

The losses came with scores of 1-0 against No. 1 South Carolina, 4-2 against No. 14 Notre Dame, and 1-0 against No. 3 North Carolina. While these matches have been highly contested and competitive, the Tigers are going to have to come out on top in these close games if they want to have postseason success. The Tigers will have plenty more opportunities to do this in their three remaining games against teams ranked in the top-30. 

The Tigers would likely love another shot at North Carolina in the postseason this year after suffering a grueling 1-0 defeat to the Tar Heels on Sept. 21. 

The Tigers entered the match wanting to avenge the 1-0 loss they suffered at the hands of the Tar Heels in last year’s NCAA tournament, but they came up just short. The matches were eerily similar, as they were both decided by a late goal from North Carolina midfielder Dorian Bailey. 

Much of the success the Tigers have had this season can be attributed to the attacking duo of Mariana Speckmaier and Jenna Polonsky, who are tied for the team lead with eleven points each. 

Clemson is hoping the two forwards can get back on track, however, as they have combined for just one goal in their past five games after starting the season scoring at a rapid pace. Both players have shown they have the skill to score big goals for the team, and if the Tigers are going to continue to have success, this will have to continue throughout the remainder of the season. 

The defense of the Tigers has been a point of strength all season. Excluding an off night against Notre Dame, they have conceded one goal or less in every game this season. The defensive excellence has been a team effort with players like Sam Staab, Sarah Osborne, Jeni Erickson and Mackenzie Smith all playing at a high level. The Tigers’ goalkeeper tandem of Sarah MacIver and Melanie Stiles has also impressed, and they managed a 0.79 percentage for combined saves and a 0.68 average of goals allowed going into their most recent game. This consistent quality play is a good sign for the Tigers moving forward in the season and they know that if the offense managed to produce just a goal or two, they will have a very good chance to win.

A perfect example of this defensive mindset came in the Tigers’ most recent game against the Miami Hurricanes. 

The Tigers defeated the Hurricanes 1-0 on the road after Smith scored the lone goal of the match in the ninth minute. The goal was all the Tigers needed as their defense held strong and secured a much-needed victory. The win gave the Tigers their first ACC win of the season and improved their division record to 1-3-1. 

The Tigers are hoping to carry the momentum from this win into this week’s homestand, which will consist of two more ACC contests against the Louisville Cardinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and the Virginia Tech Hokies on Thursday at 1 p.m. 


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