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Weekly Soccer Roundup

Clemson United split the week 1-1 with a close loss, while the women’s team stayed undefeated.

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Men’s Week 2 Recap

6-0 Victory vs Presbyterian

Clemson United started their week with a bang against the Blue Hose, scoring six goals and shutting them out in a dominant win. Mohamed Saye had his first-career hat trick, netting three goals in the first 20 minutes of game time. After a tap-in goal off Nathan Richmond’s pass gave Saye his first score, a beautiful passing sequence led to his second:

Saye would add his third later in the 53’, while freshman Pape Mar Boye netted his first collegiate goal just three minutes later. Jackson Wrobel would tack on the sixth goal of the night for Clemson off a penalty kick, rounding out a convincing win over Presbyterian.

3-2 Defeat vs Notre Dame

The Tigers hit the road on Saturday to take on the Fighting Irish in their opening game of ACC play. A wild first half saw Notre Dame take a 2-0 lead off several quick goals before Clemson came roaring back just before the half. Gael Gilbert tucked the first Clemson score away off a Silla deflection to make it 2-1 in the 43’, and Brandon Parish hit the kind of strike every midfielder dreams of just 41 seconds later to equalize:

Unfortunately, the tie was short-lived, as Notre Dame’s Daniel Russo slipped a superb free-kick just past Clemson keeper Joseph Andema’s gloves in the 49’. As a former goalkeeper, I can tell you it never feels good to have a goal scored on you like that, but sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other guy. The 3-2 score would hold until the final whistle, sending Clemson home 0-1 in ACC play, and just 2-2-1 overall.

Coaches Corner - 3-4-3 Basics

Drew here. Unlike myself, Will is on top of things and got this article out in a timely manner. I’m going to jump in late and add a quick section. I won’t go through my resume, but I’ve played and coached soccer at a fairly high level in the past. I wanted to give y’all a quick look at how the Clemson men are playing this year.

Anyways, a 3-4-3 is a little different than what most Americans, at least Americans who grew up playing in my era, have played. In the US, we tend to favor the 4-4-2, but like coach Noonan, I too prefer playing 3-4-3. Here’s what it looks like.

The benefit of the 3-4-3 is you get an extra attacker or midfielder on the field. Most teams are either going to have a 4 or 5-man midfield when playing 3 in the back. I like 5 midfielders, Coach Noonan likes 3 forwards, which is understandable because they have a 6’4” target player in Mohamed Seye who wins a ton of headers, and is adept at holding up play and getting his two forwards involved. Seye is the key to the attack. His ability to win balls connects the Clemson attack with the Clemson defense.

Clemson likes to play long balls out of the back, and oftentimes Seye will bring the Clemson midfield into the game by knocking a header backward, toward an advancing center midfielder. In basketball terms, consider him like a point forward. He’s a big guy, and he’s capable of scoring himself, especially with headers, but he can also run the game from his center-forward spot. Seye leads the team in goals, with 4, and shots on goal with 14.

The wings in this formation do a ton of running. You’ll see Clemson sub them more frequently than any other position. When you play 3 in the back, defending opposing wings can be an issue. The backside defending wing will oftentimes look like he’s in the back line, because when Clemson’s block of 3 defenders shifts from one side of the field to the other, the backside wing has to get back to prevent the other team from having a man open on the backside.

In the attack, ideally, Clemson’s 3 forwards stay tucked inside, while the wings run the alleys on the outside and feed in crosses to Seye.

In the center of the midfielders, you have two players who look like they play next to each other, but usually, one of those players is more offensive-minded, while the other is more defensive-minded. If the other team plays 3 up top like Clemson does, the defensive-minded midfielder will often drop and let the center defender hand off the forward in the middle of the field so the center back can remain free.

For Clemson, Oregon State transfer Joran Gerbert is key. He is an all-action defensive center mid who can dominate a game without putting up traditional stats (goals or assists). Gerbert was the Pac 12 Player of the Year in 2022 despite only having 2 assists and no goals to show for his work. His job is to disrupt the other team’s attack, win balls in the middle of the field, and push the ball forward into advantageous positions. His job is to make the game hard for the opposition and easy for his team.

In the Clemson attack, I’ve already mentioned Seye. His job is to win long balls and finish in the box. Next to him is Nathan Richmond. Outside of Seye, he’s the other player most likely to score for the Tigers. Thus far, it’s been a mixed bag. He’s second on the team in shots (13) but only has 1 goal to show for his efforts. He does, however, lead the team in assists with 3.

At 5’7”, 145, Richmond is the perfect partner in crime for the 6’4” Seye. While Seye is a bully in the box, Richmond is highly technical and is adept at threading passes through the defense when the slightest gap is offered. Together they provide Clemson with size and strength and quickness and skill.

Overall, Clemson’s version of the 3-4-3 features long balls out of the box to a center forward, a stout defensive-minded center midfield, and 3 defenders in the box who not only play tough, connected defense, but also spearhead the attack by skipping the midfield and playing direct to the forwards.

I’ll get a little more detailed as the season moves along (and I’ll get to the women next week) but if you’re watching a Clemson game for the first time, this is what you should expect to see.

Women’s Week 2 Recap

1-0 Defeat vs Arkansas

The women’s team had been playing lights out to this point, with a 21-1 goal differential through their first six games. A draw against South Carolina in the first game of the season was the only blemish on their record through six games, setting up a big-time showdown with the seventh-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.

Clemson did not disappoint, playing physical defense against Arkansas’ fast offense and taking the victory thanks to a sixth clean sheet from goalkeeper Hallie Mackiewicz this season. The lone Clemson goal came off a threaded pass from Tatum Short to Caroline Conti, who put her first score of the season cleanly past the Razorback keeper:

The victory pushed the Tigers to 6-0-1 heading into a road match with Georgia.

1-1 Draw vs UGA

After defeating Arkansas, Clemson traveled to Athens to face off with the Bulldogs on Sunday. After a scoreless first half, Georgia struck first in the 49’ to take the 1-0 lead. Clemson didn’t flinch and kept the pressure on to eventually come through with the equalizer via senior Makenna Morris, who weaved her way through three UGA defenders to slip a pass to Emma Wennar, who tucked the ball between the Bulldog goalkeeper.

The draw kept Clemson undefeated on the season with a 6-0-2 record as they enter conference play this week.

Upcoming Matches

The men’s team will take on USF in Tampa tonight at 7:00 PM before returning home to continue conference play against the all-too-familiar Duke Blue Devils. USF is only 1-3 but just recently notched an impressive 1-0 win against the Indiana Hoosiers. Duke is sitting pretty at 4-0-1 and looks to be Clemson’s toughest opponent yet. Grabbing a win on the road and then returning to face Duke will be no easy task, but the Tigers must at least split these two matches to stay at .500 moving forward.

The women’s team will open conference play against the 5th-ranked Florida State Seminoles on Friday. FSU has been dominant through its first five matches and will be looking to stay perfect on the season at Clemson.

There are several high-stakes games to watch this week for Clemson soccer, so try and catch one as you wait for football to return this Saturday!