After a disappointing last-second 0-1 loss to North Carolina, Clemson rebounded with two wins and a draw over the past two weeks. The Tigers got positive results in two conference road games against ranked opponents. With how challenging the ACC is these results are vital for Clemson’s title hopes.
The first game in the stretch was a road game against #17 UVA. The Tigers and the Cavaliers battled to a 3-3 draw. The Tigers defensive decencies came back to bite them in the rear for this game. Clemson built a two goal lead courtesy of Malick Mbaye and Austen Burnikel. After Virginia cut into the lead, Oliver Shannon restored the Tigers’ two goal cushion going into halftime. The Cavs were able to score two goals in the second half, including a penalty in the last few minutes of the match.
The second match was a 5-0 victory at home over Gardner-Webb. Gardner-Webb is an annual punching bag so there is not too much to report from this game. As the scoreline indicates, Clemson dominated in every facet of the game. Brady Allardice got to play the entire 90 minutes in goal. This was an experience building game for the younger players and a stat padding game for the older players.
Most recently Clemson defeated #19 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Clemson struggled early on throughout the match and fell behind 0-1 after Virginia Tech was first to a deflected shot in the box. The Tigers midfield was outmatched early on by the Hokies. Clemson struggled to keep possession and the defense was constantly left exposed. However, Clemson was able to fight its way back into the match. Aaron Jones scored a great free kick goal to level things up before halftime.
The second half was a back and forth affair with great chances by both sides. Clemson was ultimately able to score the winning goal late in the half courtesy of a wonder strike from Grayson Raynor. Raynor hit a first time shot from the top of the box into the opposite top corner. His shot left the Hokie goalie completely flatfooted.
This Clemson team still has some issues, particularly defensively. However, they have still matched up evenly with some of the best teams in the conference, such as UNC. I’m confident that this team will continue to improve over the season and that they will be a dangerous side by the end of the season comes around. The Tigers have South Florida, Wake Forest, and Coastal Carolina on the schedule for this upcoming week.