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Clemson to face No. 23 Virginia in conference clash

David Ferrara, Editor-in-Chief
Clemson defender Adam Lundegard (3), forward Mohamed Seye (9) and midfielder Ousmane Sylla (10) standing for the alma mater after the Tigers fell to Wake Forest at Historic Riggs Field on Sept. 24. 

The No. 23 Clemson men’s soccer team (8-3-1) will take on the No. 21 Virginia Cavaliers (7-4-1) in a marquee ACC matchup this Saturday evening. Historic Riggs Field will set the stage for this Top 25 clash at 5:30 p.m. EDT.
After cascading down national rankings following losses to Syracuse and Wake Forest, the Tigers are looking to make their way back into the national conversation. 
Clemson’s most recent match came against UNC Greensboro when they fell to the Spartans 2-1 at Riggs Field. UNC Greensboro is unranked but has made occasional appearances in the Top 25 this season. 
The competition that the Tigers have faced thus far has defined the season, as nearly half of their opponents have been nationally ranked. A tough slate of matches will make for a battle-tested team, but it could also lead to bumps in the road.
Following a loss to No. 7 Syracuse earlier in the season, Clemson head coach Mike Noonan had a unique response when asked about the team’s resilience. 
“Every game is huge,” he said. “That’s the best part about playing at Clemson, is that every game is going to be a big game, and that’s the fun of it.”
As always, Clemson United’s identity on the pitch is seen through its offensive prowess. Providing a stark contrast from the defensive stoutness of 2021, the Tigers have produced a scoring average that ranks fourth in the ACC and a goals-allowed average that ranks eighth. 
The team’s offensive attack is led by junior midfielder Ousmane Sylla, who ranks third in the conference with 13 points contributed, even after appearing in just nine of Clemson’s 11 games thus far. 
Sylla is complemented by senior forward Mohamed Seye, the second half of the two-headed monster that leads the Clemson offense. Seye is the only other Tiger with double-digit points on the season, leading the team in assists with six.
Clemson’s defense has dealt with some injuries this season, but junior goalkeeper Trevor Manion has remained consistent in his first full season between the posts. 
Manion may have his hands full this Saturday, as the Virginia offense also ranks fourth in the ACC in goals per game, scoring two per contest. 
The Tigers and Cavaliers have nearly identical team profiles to this point. The teams feature scoring margins separated by 0.01 points and save percentages separated by 3%.
To add to Saturday’s significance, whichever team falls will likely lose its nationally-ranked status. 
The match will feature two ACC teams that are fighting for a top spot in the nation’s strongest conference.

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