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The Tiger

Soccer Teams Looking to Repeat Success

Allen Randall, Staff
Oliver Shannon is one of the returning veterans from Clemson’s 2015 College Cup appearance. 

The men’s team made it all the way to the championship game last season, only to suffer an embarrassing defeat to Stanford, losing 4-0. For a lot of veterans on the team who remember that loss, their goal for the season is to get back to the College Cup and avenge their defeat. They are off to a good start through their first nine games, with an overall record of 7-1-1, and 2-1-1 in the ACC.
Clemson lost their star goal keeper, Andrew Tarbell to the MLS draft and fans were wondering if the Tigers could find a replacement for him. The answer so far has been yes. While playing time has been split between redshirt sophomore Brady Allardice and sophomore Ximo Miralles, Miralles has cemented himself as the goalie for big game situations. With over 650 minutes of playing action, he has allowed only six goals and recorded 25 saves. He is one of the ACC leaders in save percentage and has shown that he is a solid replacement for Tarbell, with many of his important plays not reflected on the score sheet.
Miralles has covered for a defense that has been a little shaky at times. This was another question concerning the team, as the defense lost a lot of their veteran leadership from last season. At this point in the season, it is not yet clear how it will be answered.
The Tigers have had several defensive miscues which have either resulted in goals or in Miralles making a save. There have been some sloppy tackles that have resulted in fouls in dangerous areas, something this team cannot allow if they hope to survive the gauntlet that is the ACC.
However, it seems that the back line has made plays when they have mattered. It may not look pretty, but they have saved Miralles a few times as well. Going forward they have to clean up the fouls and work on some minor things if they want to become an even more formidable team.
Up front, Clemson is loaded with talent yet they have struggled to convert shots to goals. Yes, they have won seven games and scored 17 goals, but many of those have come from non-conference games. Their best performance in the ACC came against Virginia where they scored three goals but that game ultimately ended in a tie.
The Tigers are averaging just over a goal a game right now but that average is inflated a little due to a 5-0 beat down of Gardner-Webb earlier in the season. However, this shouldn’t concern fans too much because it seems only a matter of time until this offense clicks and becomes as dynamic as everyone knows they can be. They have found ways to win games so far this season and there is no reason to expect that to change moving forward.
The women’s team is coming off of a season where they appeared in both the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. However, they did not perform well in either. They lost 5-0 to Virginia in the ACC semifinals, their worst loss of the season, and then were eliminated in penalty kicks against Ole Miss in the second round of the NCAAs.
This season, they will look to return to these tournaments and make a deeper run. Through 12 games this season, the Tigers are 8-2-2 overall, 2-0-2 in the ACC.
Most of the big names from last year are back again, including goal keeper Kailen Sheridan. She is coming off an impressive season where she gave up only 19 goals with a .750 save percentage. After spending the summer at the Rio Olympics with Team Canada where she won a bronze medal, she is back in Clemson and picking up where she left off. She’s allowing an average of a goal a game so far this season, not a stat to snuff at with this difficult schedule.
What doesn’t show up on the box score is her leadership and commanding presence in the box which helps her team in critical moments. The defense has played pretty solid so far this season, holding opponents to an average of 12 shots per game and a .076 shot percentage.
They, like the men’s team, have committed some bad fouls but they have been consistent throughout this opening stretch.
The real story for this team is the offense. Only 12 games into the season they have scored 37 goals, averaging over three a game. They are led by senior midfielder Catrina Atanda who has nine of her own. This offense is dynamic and takes advantage of their opportunities. With so much fire power up front and in the midfield, defenses struggle to stop them from scoring.
A mark of a great offense is getting everyone involved, not just the forwards, and this team has certainly done that. If they can continue scoring at such a high rate and their defense can clean up a few problems, they could definitely make the run to the ACC Tournament and then the NCAAs.
It’s early in the season for both of these squads but Clemson fans have a lot to be excited about with these two teams.
Both teams play away this week as the men’s team takes on Coastal on October 4 at 6 p.m. and the women’s team hit the road to take on Notre Dame in South Bend on October 6 at 7 p.m.

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