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Radwanski sings team’s praises ahead of historic trip to College Cup

Clemson+women%E2%80%99s+soccer+has+played+nothing+short+of+exceptional+all+season%2C+punching+its+first+ever+ticket+to+Cary%2C+North+Carolina%2C+for+the+College+Cup.
Thomas Gilbert
Clemson women’s soccer has played nothing short of exceptional all season, punching its first ever ticket to Cary, North Carolina, for the College Cup.

The Clemson women’s soccer team has made history time and time again this season, and the Tigers have no intention of slowing down their roll.

For the first time since the program’s inception in 1994, Clemson is headed to Cary, North Carolina, to compete in the College Cup. The Tigers will meet Florida State in a clash of NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds at 6 p.m. on Friday to determine who moves on to the national championship game.

Clemson is just the third women’s team in school history to head to a national semifinal, along with the 2004 and 2005 women’s tennis teams.

When asked about what this means to his program, head coach Eddie Radwanski spoke without hesitation.

“The neat thing about it is all these little girls in the stands watching them,” Radwanski said. “They’re great role models for them, and hopefully can help them turn their dreams into reality.”

The Tigers are two wins away from hoisting the school’s first-ever women’s national championship trophy over their heads, and their first obstacle is the Seminoles. The teams have already faced off twice this year, first in the regular season, which saw a 4-2 Florida State victory, and again in the ACC Championship, when Florida State, led by head coach Brian Pensky, won by a narrow 2-1 margin.

The conference rivals are obviously quite familiar with each other.

“I don’t think that either Brian’s team or my team are going to surprise each other with an awful lot,” Radwanski said. “We know that we’ve had very good games with them, it’s been exciting to watch. It’s been competitive, and now we get another opportunity to play them in the national semifinals.”

The game plan for Radwanski and the Tigers is simple: “We’re going to try to end up with one more goal than Florida State this time.”

The Tigers will need to neutralize midfielder Onyi Echegini early to prevent the Seminoles from running up the score. Echegini leads the ACC in goals and points and has already scored three times against Clemson this season. Clemson’s backline will look to continue its dominance, which has allowed opponents just 16 total goals, emphasized by goalkeeper Halle Mackiewicz.

Radwanski could not speak highly enough of his goalie.

“One of our strengths this year has definitely been on the defensive side,” he said. “We’ve been blessed because we have an outstanding goalkeeper. I’ve said all along, I think she’s the best goalkeeper in college soccer.

“It’s like in the NHL when you’re in the playoffs, you need a hot goalkeeper. Well, we’ve had a hot goalkeeper all season. Consistency has been our biggest theme word, and Halle has been our biggest leader in staying consistent.”

The offensive leaders of Clemson’s squad include Makenna Morris and Caroline Conti, who have nine and seven goals, respectively. Morris, although listed as a defender, has been a consistent force to be reckoned with upfront and currently sits at 14th in the nation for game-winning goals with five to her name.

Conti, who is in her fifth year with the team, has solidified herself as a leader through example.

“Caroline is the most blue-collar player that we have, probably one of the best in college soccer, because she does a ton of the dirty work,” Radwanski said. “The mileage she puts in, the work ethic she commits to, I couldn’t have been happier for anyone to get the game-winning goal in the last game, the Elite Eight, than Caroline in her final game at Historic Riggs.”

This season is also special due to the historic run the women’s squad has made alongside the men’s team.

“I don’t think we would be here without Mike’s group,” Radwanski said. “To me, they showed a pathway to winning the national championship and being at the College Cup.

“When you can see your friends doing something like that, you’re like, ‘Wow, they just won the national championship.’ I think it makes it a little bit more realistic, like, ‘Wait a minute, they did it, maybe we can do this.’ Belief is one of the most powerful tools that you can bring with you as an athlete.”

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About the Contributors
Grace O'Donnell, Sports Editor
Thomas Gilbert, Senior Photographer
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