For the first time since 2001 Clemson is the ACC Champion in Men's Soccer. The Tigers got the winning goal in the second period when senior Ara Amirkhanian, a Clemson native, scored the winning goal off a corner kick. But the more impressive goal came nearly 15 minutes earlier when Paul Clowes scored his first goal of the season with 2 seconds left in the game to bring Clemson level.
The game started off with Clemson the rather dominant side. Sadly as soon as I turned home and flipped the game on Louisville had a nice little sequence down the Clemson right side that resulted in a Louisville goal off a near post header. Clemson goalie Andrew Tarbell was rooted to the spot and Louisville had a goal that many thought would make them 8-0-0 when scoring first.
What followed was not the prettiest game I've ever seen from Clemson. Louisville did a good job of retaining possession and dealing with Clemson's rather haphazard pressure of the ball. Clemson definitely looked tired from their PK win over Notre Dame on Friday and it particularly showed in the midfield. Clemson could retain any meaningful possession and normally crisp passes went awry on a slick surface.
The second half brought some better chances including one opportunity off the cross bar as well as a few mad scrambles in front of the Louisville net, but some fortuitous bounces and good goalkeeping kept Clemson off the scoresheet.
The game was also a rather chippy affair with over 40 fouls in total split rather evenly between the two teams. This plus constant substitution allowed Lousville to prevent Clemson from getting any momentum in the second half.
Thankfully Clemson still had heart and with the announcer counting down the final 10 seconds, such a stupid thing to have in college soccer by the way, Clemson moved the ball down the left side for a final attack. I believe Alex Happi, though it may have been Michael Melvin, attempted a cross that was knocked down to Paul Clowes' feet at the top of the box. There the junior from England hit an awkward shot that dinked in off the right post of Louisville and into the back of the net.
From there extra time beckoned and both teams wanted to score in this one. There was more attacking soccer in the 15 minutes played than the rest of the game. Thankfully Clemson got an excellent opportunity on a corner kick from Bobby Belair that bounced in the box, saw Diego Campos take a shot that was blocked before Clemson native Ara Amirkhanian put the ball in to clinch the ACC title.
Next up for Clemson is the first round of the NCAA tournament. Winning the ACC title should see Clemson be a top 16 seed which would guarantee them hosting duties for at least the first two games of the tournament I believe. Depending on the draw, which is released tomorrow, Clemson could make a decent run in the tournament.