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Men’s Soccer Roundup: Peeling the Orange

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Late goals sink Syracuse

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It appears that some Clemson teams can win in Syracuse this year.

It might be cruel of me to reference the football debacle that occurred in that Upstate New York sweat lodge named after an HVAC manufacturer. I ask, however, that you indulge my cruelty, if only for a moment. I want to take you on an imaginative journey into an alternate universe.

Imagine for a moment that your life is a mess, and that today is September 16, 2017. You’ve just had a difficult day at work, and your seventeen ungrateful sons are stomping about the house. Your dog has kidney problems. Your spouse of 35 years just ate all of the Lucky Charms in one vindictive sitting, and you’re staring down five consecutive breakfasts with soggy Raisin Bran in a plastic bowl on the scuffed wooden table that you once received as a wedding gift.

You’ve taken refuge in your favorite recliner—the one with the cupholder and the dingy vinyl. In the cupholder is a hot cup of coffee. The coffee is a treat and a tool. It soothes the nerves and it keeps you awake. Despite the coffee, your eyes won’t stay open. The football game on the television is in its closing stages. The Clemson Tigers are trouncing yet another conference opponent from some state like Kentucky. You’re not watching anymore, but you feel like you have to sit until the end of the game. You’ve never been one to leave early.

To keep your eyes open, you decide to take a look at your calendar. You’re tactile, old-school—you like paper calendars. You like the sound your pen makes when it hits the paper and you like throwing large, clean X’s over the dates of the past. Something about the process makes everything feel complete. You don’t have much to add this month. Next month, though, is the date of your eleventh son’s baseball tournament. Scott isn’t the most talented kid on the diamond, but he sure puts in a lot of effort. You mark the day of the tournament, October 13. Isn’t something occurring that day? Surely not a college football game. A Friday game would be ridiculous. Only high schools play football on Friday.

You raise the cup of coffee to your lips. You take a look at the plasma television.

Travis Etienne is racing down the sideline, after contact. He’s in the clear, and the sorry Louisville defense isn’t going to catch him. He trots into the end zone.

Forgetting yourself, you leap into the air. The freshman sensation from Louisiana has raised your spirits to ecstasy, and you have no regard for your physical surroundings. Your coffee cup slips from your hand, and the Folgers brew drenches your calendar. The entire month of October is a blurry mess.

You can remember only one date off the top of your head. The day of your son’s baseball tournament. October 13, a fine day on which you will not be able to access a television. You won’t have to go anywhere near Syracuse, New York on that day. You’re not sure of why you think of the city, until it hits you. The Clemson men’s soccer team plays there a week after the baseball tournament, on October 20. The source of that information is unclear, but the prospect of the match excites you.

Maybe you’ll tune in and watch the Tigers break Orange hearts.

You smile.

Clemson: 2 at Syracuse: 1 (Friday, 10/20)

Starting XI (4-3-3):

  • GK: Ximo Miralles
  • LB: Michael Melvin
  • LCB: Patrick Bunk-Andersen
  • RCB: Malick Mbaye
  • RB: Grayson Raynor
  • CDM: Tanner Dieterich
  • CM: Alexander Hemmingsen
  • CAM: Oliver Shannon
  • LW: Diego Campos
  • ST: Jason Wright
  • RW: Saul Chinchilla
Staggered 4-3-3

Clemson did indeed peel the Syracuse Orange, but the Tigers needed two late goals to do so. Head Coach Mike Noonan will take the victory, but he’ll certainly hope for earlier goals in future matches. This match was a little too close for comfort.

Despite the lack of early goals, Noonan’s squad looked strong on the night. The staggered midfield, shown above, continued to click. Alex Hemmingsen looked comfortable in his central role once again. He provides the Tigers with an extra boost in the midfield. He has an advanced understanding of space, and he’s a joy to watch on the ball. His range of passing was on display against Syracuse, too. Around him, Oliver Shannon and Tanner Dieterich provided assured performances of their own. Their play gave Hemmingsen the time and space he needed to set the tempo. The defensive line, excepting the one goal allowed, was solid. The ideal back four is clear, and all of its members played against the Orange.

That early Syracuse goal deserves some mention, though. In the 7th minute, a cross sailed into the box from the left wing. Patrick Bunk-Andersen stepped to meet the cross in the air. In the process, he left open forward Johannes Pieles. Michael Melvin, the fullback, did not shift to cover the forward. This failure would not have been a problem if Bunk-Andersen had correctly judged the path of the ball. However, Bunk-Andersen missed the header, and the ball fell toward the unmarked Pieles. The Syracuse forward buried the cross in the back of the net with a neat volley.

Clemson probed for goals for the remainder of the match, and the midfield commanded possession. The array of attacks did nothing to damage the Orange defense in the first half, though. The breakthrough came at the 75’ mark, when substitute winger Kimarni Smith faced the goalkeeper from a tight angle. Smith attempted to slip a shot through. The ball skimmed past the goalkeeper and across the face of a goal. Diego Campos, showing excellent instincts, slid through a crowd of Syracuse defenders and provided the finishing touch. The Tigers were on the board. The second goal came five minutes later, when a Syracuse player took an errant touch at midfield. The ball skipped behind the back line. Oliver Shannon rushed onto the bouncing ball, and soon found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He rocketed a shot over the ‘keeper’s head and into the back of the net. Clemson held on for the remaining 10 minutes, and emerged with a 2-1 victory.

Upcoming Match

Clemson vs. Louisville

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Date: Friday, 10/27

Media: ACC Network Extra

Extra Time

This is my new warmup for everything. It also seems useful for introductory Spanish courses.