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Men’s Soccer Roundup: Survival

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Clemson advances, but the Demon Deacons loom

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Survival stories have a way of a gripping their audience. They pull the readers, viewers, or listeners into their world and make them ask questions of themselves. How would I respond in this situation? What would I take? Who would I lean on? The questions tear away the existing social fabric and thrust readers into a different state of mind, a state of mind in which not dying becomes the primary objective and all other hopes and desires take second place. Such a situation carries endless narrative potential, and storytellers have capitalized on that potential for millennia.

The reality survival show is one of the more recent manifestations of the survival story. Most Americans will be familiar with the form. The list of shows is so long and varied that the shows themselves can be reduced to tired survival show archetypes.

For example, take Survivor. He’s the grizzled veteran of the bunch. He’s not particularly engaging, as he used up all of his good spurts of drama sixteen seasons ago in Nicaragua. Nobody cares about him anymore, but the guys in casting keep bringing him back for viewer familiarity. Man vs. Wild, meanwhile, is the weird one. He’ll jump off a cliff, drink his own urine, return to his Motel 6, and call it a day. You’ll like him for it in spite of yourself. His antics get a little repetitive, but you’ve learned to love him unconditionally. Fat Guys in the Woods is the one who’s a little too relatable. He’s just fine. He’s not too offensive, though he does have this weird hang-up on physical fitness. Not many people notice him, even though he tries to keep an eye on the weather for everybody else. He’s nice and well-intentioned, but you probably don’t know who or what he is. Naked and Afraid is the one who likes to get naked, I’m afraid.

I doubt the Clemson Men’s Soccer team watches these shows, but they sure do know how to survive. Their penchant for survival has made them a worthwhile watch in the ACC Tournament. Despite some lackluster team performances, the Tigers are still alive at the semifinal stage.

Here’s the bracket:

The Tigers are two wins away from an ACC title, though they’ll have to surmount some daunting obstacles to get there. Wake Forest, perhaps the best team in the country, stands in the way of a trip to the championship match in Charleston. The Demon Deacons already defeated the Tigers in one extra time thriller, and they’ll look to end things earlier this time around. Clemson’s forward line must be more productive after an uninspiring shift against Duke, in which they managed zero shots for the entire first half. Wake Forest scores in bunches, and I expect them to do so again. The Tiger forwards will have to keep up with the onslaught to enable further survival.

Anticipation of the upcoming Wake Forest match shouldn’t cloud our past analysis, though. Let’s look back at the wins that got Clemson to this point.

Syracuse: 2 at Clemson: 2 (Wednesday, 11/1)

Clemson advances on penalties (4-3)

Starting XI (4-3-3):

  • GK: Ximo Miralles
  • LB: Michael Melvin
  • LCB: Patrick Bunk-Andersen
  • RCB: Malick Mbaye
  • RB: Grayson Raynor
  • CDM: Andrew Burnikel
  • CM: Oliver Shannon
  • CAM: Tanner Dieterich
  • LW: Diego Campos
  • ST: Jason Wright
  • RW: Robbie Robinson

Goals:

Clemson: Saul Chinchilla (70th minute), assisted by Oliver Shannon; Patrick Bunk-Andersen (86th minute), assisted by Oliver Shannon

Syracuse: Tajon Buchanan (60th minute); Johannes Pieles (89th minute), assisted by Jan Breitenmoser

Quick Thoughts

This one was quiet until late in the second half. The Tigers unleashed a barrage of shots in the early going, but none of their efforts really hit home. Jason Wright was useful in possession, but he couldn’t make an impact in the final third. Robbie Robinson was surprisingly ineffective. Diego Campos was occasionally active.

Midfield dominance and the substitute appearance of Saul Chinchilla energized the attack in the second half. The Tiger midfielders didn’t let Syracuse’s constant fouling (6 yellow cards) disrupt their game. Center midfielder Oliver Shannon played a crucial role in both goals. Patrick Bunk-Andersen proved his credentials as a threat in the box. Despite the attacking plaudits, Bunk-Andersen’s back line was not great. Malick Mbaye made some uncharacteristic mistakes. The fullbacks left too many gaps. They allowed a mediocre attack to slip in twice and grab 2 goals. The late equalizer was especially disappointing.

Extra time was relatively noneventful. Syracuse sat back and absorbed Clemson’s pressure. Diego Campos came alive in this period, but he couldn’t provide that final touch. The match went to penalties.

Before the shootout started, Noonan made a radical move that I’ve seen him make before. He replaced starting goalkeeper Ximo Miralles, who had played for the entire match, with a backup. When penalties come around, Noonan seems to prefer large goalkeepers who fill the frame of the goal. 6’5” Michael Zierhoffer, Ximo’s replacement in the shootout, fit the bill. Zierhoffer got the job done. The Tigers won the shootout 4-3. Chris Heijjer, Michael Melvin, Diego Campos, and Harrison Kurtz provided the necessary goals. Clemson advanced to play Duke.

Clemson: 1 at Duke: 0 (Sunday, 11/5)

Starting XI (4-3-3):

  • GK: Ximo Miralles
  • LB: Michael Melvin
  • LCB: Patrick Bunk-Andersen
  • RCB: Justin Malou
  • RB: Grayson Raynor
  • CDM: Alex Hemmingsen
  • CM: Oliver Shannon
  • CAM: Tanner Dieterich
  • LW: Diego Campos
  • ST: Jason Wright
  • RW: Robbie Robinson

Goals:

Clemson: Diego Campos (58th minute), penalty

Duke: None

Quick Thoughts:

Offensively, this match was a slog. Despite a fair performance in the midfield, the Tigers didn’t manage a single shot in the first half. Duke managed 7, and would’ve taken the lead if Ximo Miralles hadn’t put on the performance of his life. The former Villarreal man was stellar between the sticks. His reactions were superb in one-on-one situations, and he turned away a number of surefire goals. If the Tigers win this tournament, his teammates should buy him a large, expensive dinner. He earned it on Sunday against the Blue Devils.

The second half wasn’t too much better in the shots department, but Diego Campos gave Clemson the only goal that was needed to advance. He performed a deft turn at the edge of the box and forced the Duke defender to commit a foul. The referee gave a penalty, and Campos put it away. The Tigers just hung on for the remainder of the match. Ximo provided a few more saves, and at the final whistle Clemson found themselves facing the prospect of a rematch with Wake Forest in the semifinal. Onward and upward.

Upcoming Match

Clemson at Wake Forest

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Date: Wednesday, 11/8

Media: ACC Network Extra

Extra Time:

Watch as Bear stuffs his mouth with “edible” creatures that he definitely won’t hate.

Penalties:

See? This show is real. It exists!