The second-ranked Clemson Tigers outlasted eighth-ranked Creighton 1-0 on Friday to clinch an important non-conference win.
The Tigers took the lead only a few minutes into the game thanks to a goal by Oliver Shannon. Clemson had a few other good scoring opportunities throughout the game, including a Diego Campos chance when went one on one with the goalkeeper, but the Tigers were unable to convert. Clemson kept shooting themselves in the foot with their inability to score these easy chances. But Creighton’s keeper also had a great game and was able to deny many of the clear cut scoring chances Clemson generated throughout the match.
Clemson’s defense really stepped up in this game. The Tigers were able to seriously limit Creighton’s offense to just a few shots from outside the box. Coach Noonan went with Ximo Miralles in goal this week and the Spaniard looked good when he was called into action. I think Miralles should be Clemson’s starting goalie for the rest of the season, but it will be interesting to see what the coaching staff decides to do. There is a possibility that both goalkeepers could split time for several more games.
Iman Mafi made his return after missing the first two games this season. Freshman Tanner Dieterich was called up for the U-19 National Team and missed this game. Mauriq Hill started in Dieterich’s center back spot and performed admirably. Grayson Raynor and Andrew Burnikel both started in the midfield today, logging very good minutes.
The three most outstanding players, in my opinion, were Campos, Shannon, and Miralles. Campos played nearly the entire game as he rotated between winger and forward with barely a drop in energy. Shannon brings a lot of flexibility to the midfield. He has been playing in an attacking midfield role this season and that is the position he was playing when he scored his goal. However, he has also been able to go back to a holding midfield role throughout the game, which allows other center midfielders to charge forward. Miralles was good with his distribution from the back and was calm under pressure when called into action.
Clemson will need to continue to improve defensively in order to make an ACC run this season. The Tigers have another big challenge when Top 3 North Carolina comes to town this Friday. This game will be one of the biggest conference games in years for Clemson, and Noonan’s could really build some momentum if they pull off the win.