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Clemson Soccer: Key Conference Tests

The soccer teams are fighting for important positioning in the standings as the ACC season winds down. Will the Tigers be able to fight to the top?

Men's Soccer (10-1-2)

The Tigers exploded for a big 4-2 win over Louisville on Friday night in a rematch of last year's ACC title game. The game was close for pretty much the entire first half, with the teams tied at 1-1 entering the halftime break. While the Tigers have clearly used last season's title as a springboard into a strong 2015 season, the same can not be said for Louisville. The ACC pre-season favorites, the Cardinals are sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Division with a 0-2-3 conference record. That is just as disappointing as Duke; the Blue Devils were ranked when they play Clemson but have struggled mightily since then falling to 0-4-1 in conference play, which puts them in dead last in the ACC.

Clemson flexed its muscle during the second half to show just how offensively dominant it can be. After an Iman Mafi penalty kick in the first half, Clemson got goals from Kyle Murphy, Austin Burnikel, and Thales Moreno. As I mentioned last week, Moreno is really starting to come into his own right now. He had a rough start to the season but I like what I've seen from him the past couple of games. He can play both attacking and holding midfield, which gives Coach Noonan some flexibility to sit either Paul Clowes or Oliver Shannon at times.

Throughout the second half, especially after the second goal, Clemson exerted its will on the game more and more. The third and fourth goals were only a matter of time. Dominating possession has been Clemson's calling card this season, especially since it helps to protect the back line.

The Tigers next play at Syracuse on Saturday night in another important conference game.

Women's Soccer (10-2-1)

The Tigers took on Virginia and Virginia Tech, both Top 10 teams, this past week, losing 0-2 to Virginia and beating the Hokies 3-2.

Against Virginia, Clemson allowed an early second half goal. This has been somewhat of a problem for the Tigers over the course of the season. Virginia's second goal came late in the game as Clemson was pressing for an equalizer, which they almost got. Clemson has now dropped games to two of the top teams in the nation, Florida State and Virginia. Those results are a bit disappointing. If the Tigers want to be the best, they have to beat the best.

The Tigers did manage to bounce back from the Thursday loss with an exciting 3-2 win over #9 Virginia Tech on Sunday. In a back and forth affair, Clemson was able to get a late winning goal from midfielder Shannon Horgan. This win was very important for the Tigers as they attempt to position themselves for the ACC tournament. In women's soccer, the ACC tournament is only the top 4 teams in the conference. Clemson is currently tied for 3rd with Virginia Tech, UNC, and Pitt. The Tigers play Pitt in the final home game of the season, before hitting the road to finish out the season against NC State, UNC, and Syracuse. This will be the most important stretch of the season for the Tigers.