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Clemson Fall Sports: Women’s Soccer Preview

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The women’s soccer team has the potential to do big things in the ACC this season.

France v England - FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 Third Place Play-Off Photo by Steve Bardens-FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

This should be an exciting year at Historic Riggs Field for the women’s soccer team. The Tigers start just outside of the United Soccer Coaches poll top 25 after receiving 73 votes. They are essentially starting the season ranked 26th.

Coach: Eddie Radwanski (aka E-Rad)

System: 4-3-3

Strength:

Clemson has a senior dominated defense that was stout last year. Sandy MacIver has All-American potential at goalkeeper and Dani Antieau is one of the best defenders in the ACC.

Weakness:

The midfield is extremely young, extremely talented, but extremely young. It’s going to be interesting to see if the talented freshman can hold up physically as the season moves along.

The roster has plenty of goal scoring potential, but after last seasons goal scoring issues, I need to see some balls in the back of the net against top level ACC opponents. I like the players, I just need to see the production.

Goal Keeper

Starter

England v Japan - FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 Semi Final Photo by Alex Grimm - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Sandy MacIver - Sr - #1

Sandy had busy offseason, helping lead England to a bronze medal in the U-20 World Cup in France and subsequently earning a call up to the full English National Team. The Winsford, England native gives the Tigers one of the premier goalkeepers in NCAA soccer this season.

She is the unquestioned starter between the pipes and will anchor a stingy Clemson defense that should keep the Tigers in every match this season. As a former goalkeeper, I stan for Sandy. She is one of the best athletes on the Clemson campus, and should get the respect and acknowledgment she deserves.

Reserves

Maddie Weber - Jr - #24

The Tigers are spoiled for options at goalkeeper. Weber, out of Coppell, Texas, started the first 4 matches last season, including a shut out of Oregon State in the season opener. MacIver is an elite talent, but I wouldn’t be uncomfortable with Weber in goal.

Hannah McLaughlin - Fr - #26

The Clemson coaches staff is excited about McLaughlin’s potential. She was an All-State goal keeper in Virginia and one of the key recruits in the last recruiting class. In fact, the coaching staff is so enamored with McLaughlin that the young goal keeper received a start against woefully overmatched Coastal Carolina while MacIver is away with England’s National Team.

I expect big things from the freshman out of Virginia, and she should benefit from the opportunity to learn from MacIver and Weber this season.

Defense

Starters

RB - Jackson Moehler - So - #38

Moehler looks to have the right back position locked down after playing in 15 matches and starting 5 as a freshman last season.

Look for Moehler to move up and down the right wing this year. Clemson likes to play out of the back and use the outside backs to create width in the attack. The former star defender from Marietta, Georgia (Walton High School) is more than capable of providing solid service into the box on offense and locking down the right wing on defense.

RCB - Renee Guion - So - #19

The 2018 Tiger Newcomer Award winner is back for her Sophomore season and is another player looking to build on a stellar freshman campaign. At 5’10, she provides the Tiger with size and strength in the back line.

Guion can play in the center or on the outside depending on what the coaching staff is looking for in a particular game. In the first two games of the season she has started at both center back (Utah) and right back (Coastal). I think she probably settles into the center of the defense.

One major factor that keeps Guion on the field is her ability to hit free kicks and corners. Against Coastal Carolina, she rang up 4 assists on corner kicks.

LCB - Dani Antieau - Sr - #13

At 5’10, Antieau provides an experience, physical presence for the defense from the left center back position. She entrenched herself in the middle of the back line, as a Sophomore, and has never given up the position. She is at her best when clearing and contesting crosses into the box and leading the back line.

The Tigers have plenty of options on set pieces, and Antieau is one of the primary targets on corners and wide free kicks. She’s aggressive in the air and has a knack for either knocking the ball in the net, or knocking it down for a teammate.

LB - Sydney Dawson - So - #7

After appearing in 19 matches and making 15 starts as a freshman, Dawson is ready to take her game to the next level as a Sophomore.

The Sophomore from Akron, Ohio provides Clemson with speed on the outside on offense and cover in the back on defense. Look for her to make runs up and down the left side of the pitch.

Reserves

Mackenzie Smith - Sr - #3

The 5’10, Smith provides Clemson with another experienced, tall and talented defender capable of stepping into the starting lineup if needed. Smith appeared in 18 games last season, including 5 starts, and logged 672 minutes. I expect to see her on the field quite a bit this season.

On offense, look for Smith to get into the box on set pieces. She had 7 shots on goal in 2018.

Sarah Osborne - Sr. - #12

This is one of those times that not actually being in Clemson makes things a little difficult.

Osborne has a wealth of experience and is most likely a starter....she just hasn’t made an appearance yet for the Tigers. I’m going to assume she’s injured (it’s hard to find online information on injuries), because she has played a major role on the team in each of her first 3 years in Tigertown, including winning the “Iron Woman” award last season.

In 2018 she appeared in 21 matches, including 16 starts, and logged 1,356 minutes of playing time. That just doesn’t sound like a player that’s going to be riding the pine this year. Look for the aggressive defender out of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland to provide some bite for the Tigers back line.

Harper White - Fr. - #4

The Clemson defense is stacked, but White, a freshman out of Franklin, Tennessee, may be too talented to keep off the field. In Clemson’s first two games, White has seen substantial minutes, playing 34 minutes off the bench against Utah and earning a start alongside Dani Antieau in the center of the Tiger defense against Coastal Carolina.

Against Coastal, White was aggressive next to Antieau, looking to win the ball early. She was a little shaky with her passing early in the game, but then settled in and started making the easy passes. She’s a player to watch going forward in her career. Expect big things from White over the next 4 years.

Midfield

Starters

LM - Caroline Conti - Fr

The midfield positions are interchangeable for Clemson, but Conti started on the left for the Tigers against their biggest challenge to date in Utah, so that’s where she is going to start in the preview for now.

Conti, a 4* recruit out of Greenville, South Carolina, comes into college with a laundry list of accolades from her time at J.L. Mann High School. She is a two time South Carolina 5A player of the year, and was the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year in 2017. If the first two games were any indication, expect to see Conti play a pivotal role in the midfield this year.

CM - Hal Hershfelt - Fr

Like Conti, Hershfelt is a freshman the coaching staff is going to get on the field early and often. She has started both games thus far, including going a full 90 minutes against Utah.

The midfielder out of Lassiter High School in Atlanta, Georgia has a commanding presence on the field. In the Coastal Carolina game, she always seemed to be around the ball, and for the most part, made good decisions in possession.

She opened career in spectacular fashion against Utah, beating the Utah goalkeeper to the ball and pounding home a commanding header to open both her and the Tigers scoring for the year.

RM - Kimber Haley - Jr

Haley provides the young Tiger midfield with the experience and leadership it desperately needs. She has logged over 1,000 minutes in both of her college campaigns and was named one of 3 team captains as a sophomore last season.

Look for Haley to flit around the midfield using her speed to break up play and create openings down the wing. When she has the ball at her feet, she knows what to do with it. In 2018 her 3 goals were good for 3rd most on the team and her 3 assists put her in a tie for second on the squad. Her 9 overall points were 4th most for the 2018 Tigers.

In 2019 she will need to lead the young midfield and continue to provide consistent offense. Last season Clemson struggled to score goals outside of their top two players. This season, Haley needs to step up carry some of the scoring (and assisting) load for the Tigers to reach their full potential.

Reserves

Haley Schueppert - So - #8

Expect Schueppert to play an important role in the midfield this season. As a redshirt freshman last season she appeared in 7 matches, including 4 starts and contributed 217 minutes to the Clemson cause. She also won the Bill D’Andrea Tiger PAW Award.

Audry Viso -Jr - #9

The former Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year is looking to make a breakthrough in her junior season after making 13 appearances and logging 246 minutes for the Tigers last season.

Grace Wagner - So - #5

Wagner, out of Cary, North Carolina, appeared in 11 matches last season and contributed 236 minutes off the bench. The former 2 time North Carolina All-State player is looking to to provide the Tigers energy and physical play in the midfield this year.

Forward

LF - Maliah Morris - Fr - #21

Much like in the midfield the actual positioning of the forwards appears to be a work in progress, and could remain fluid throughout the season. I’m going with the starting lineup against Utah for my information, and Morris started on the left flank of the Clemson attack against the Utes.

Top Drawer Soccer had Morris rated as a 4* recruit in 2018. Hailing from Germantown, Maryland, and St. John’s College High School, Morris was a two -time DC Gatorade Player of the Year. In early season action, she is more than living up to her recruiting hype.

In 64 minutes against Utah she led Clemson with 4 shots, and terrorized the Utes with her electric on ball acceleration. It’s one thing to run fast, it’s another thing to run fast with the ball at your feet. Morris has the ability to go from 0-60 in a few steps with the ball still glued to her cleats.

After a frustrating 2018, the Tigers needed to find more scoring. Bringing a star like Morris into the squad should go a long way in solving Clemson’s goal scoring problem from last season.

CF - Courtney Jones - Rs So - #20

I’ve got Jones, out of Carmel, Indiana, as my breakout player of the year in 2019. After an injury ended her freshman year before it got started, Jones struggled to find the net last year, recording what I consider a disappointing 2 goals and 3 assists considering her talent level. This year Jones will team with fellow speed merchant Maliah Morris to give Clemson one of the fastest attacks in the ACC.

The good news for Jones in 2018 was that she was able to appear in 21 matches, garner 17 starts, and log 1,251 minutes. I expect that experience to pay major dividends in 2019 as the 5’2 dynamo looks to lead the Tiger attack. She’s got all the talent in the world, now it’s time to translate that talent into production. I think we’ll be talking about Jones having a monster season a few months down the line.

RF - Julie Mackin - Sr - #16

In 2018, Mackin was a model of consistency. She was one of two players to start every game and put in 1,481 minutes of word up top for the Tigers. You know game and game out that you’re going to get hard work out of Mackin, but this year, she needs to turn her high work rate into high production. She does all the little things you need, and provides the front line with leadership, but after only 1 goal and 0 assists in 2018, she needs to do some of the big things as well.

With Jones, Morris (and Speckmaier who I’ll get to in a moment) drawing the eyes of the defense, Mackin should be able to find some opportunities to sneak through the defense and light up the scoreboard in her 4th and final year. Any contribution to the scoreboard from Mackin, either through goals or assists, is gravy for the Tigers....and gravy is delicious.

Reserves

Mariana Speckmaier - Jr - #17

After Speckmaier led Clemson in goals and points last year, it’s surprising to see the Venezuelan National team member coming off the bench this season. It speaks more to the talent level of Morris than it does to anything else.

Speckmaier will play a crucial role on the 2019 squad and it wouldn’t surprise me to see her lead the Tigers in goals again this year. Bringing her off the bench early allows Morris to get early season action while the veteran saves her legs for later on in the season.

Some players look like they should score a bunch of goals, and some players actually score a bunch of goals. Mariana scores bunches of goals and will score bunches of goals for Clemson this year. She contributed a brace against Coastal, and gives Clemson one of the best bench scoring options in the nation.

Patrice DiPasquale - Sr - #30

The 5’7 DiPasquale brings something a little different to the Clemson attack. She’s able to come in as a target player and win balls in the box. Last season she played in 19 games, logged 457 minutes, and contributed a goal and an assist. I look for similar production out of her this season.

Lauren Bruns - Fr - #22

Bruns is yet another promising freshman for the Tigers. The 5’5 forward out of Richmond, Virginia and Douglas S. Freeman High School was named First Team All-State Virginia High School League in 2017 and 2018, and knocked home an absurd 91 career goals in the process.

I think you’ll see Bruns start to eat up more minutes as she gets adjusted to the college game and Clemson gets a little further into the schedule.