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Clemson Men’s Soccer Blog

11/3/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

Orange and white, red and black…faces contorted to scare and frighten…colors racing through the fields looking for something sweet on October 31…Is this describing Halloween with the kiddies? No, just Clemson and NC State fighting for points on Sunday in a key ACC match up at Historic Riggs Field! The stakes were high and the strategy was clear – no less than 3 points would do for the Tigers. So whatever Coach Noonan said to the troops in the locker room during his pre-game talk certainly did the trick (or treat) as Tommy Drake and K.C. Onyeador. The win brought the young Tigers up for a tie for fourth place in the conference with one remaining game at UNC. The team is 2-0-1 in its last three games and seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time before the ACC Tournament in Cary, NC November 9-13.

Finding one good goal scorer is hard to find, so the recent play of Savage (3 goals, 1 assist), Drake (5 goals, 4 assists), Sumpter (4 goals, 1 assist) and Onyeador (5 goals, 2 assists) has been pleasing for all involved with the program. The scoring has been balanced throughout the team, thus keeping opponents guessing about where the next attack may be coming from. With games getting tighter as the regular season leads to tourney time, this well rounded attack will look to pay dividends to Clemson Soccer.

Our coaching staff is a special breed: long days, longer nights, little sleep, running non-stop on lots of caffeine and adrenaline. So forty local youth and high school coaches looking to spend the day with our staff as they prepare for the biggest game of the year? NO PROBLEM! Not too hard to believe that that our coaching staff ran a coaches symposium the day of the NC State game to help promote soccer in the upstate. Classroom sessions were run by Coach Noonan and complimented by field sessions from Coaches Murphy and Jones. The entire group stuck around for the match and received a post game analysis from the head coach himself. All in all, great days for area coaches looking to improve their own teams while watching a Clemson ACC win to boot!

The team is on the road this Friday as they travel to UNC for the last regular season game of the year. Both teams need a good result as the league table is as tight as it has ever been. Seeding for the tournament is key, so expect to see the Tigers give it everything in Tommy Drake hometown. As was mentioned, the ACC tournament is next week, so see if you can clear some time out to watch the boys in action – you could be witness to something special. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so…

Go Tigers!

10/29/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

The mayhem of Riggs has finally petered out after a week of passion highlighted with an iconic celebration of the winning goal vs. Duke in overtime. These Tigers have given us some breathtaking moments all season long, but last week certainly was a highlight.

The Georgia Southern match looked like another frustrating night for the boys as they were down 1-0 late in the match. Numerous scoring chances were spurned, and it looked like it was going to be one of those nights. But freshman catalyst Stephen McGill scored an 88th minute equalizer to send the game into overtime and the fans into raptures.

The Duke match on Friday was just as revealing as the team showed their true colors after conceding late in the match to send the game to overtime. Rather than allowing the visitors to ride on the momentum created, our boys stopped them cold with an energetic display capped off by a Riley Sumpter overtime winner. The scenes of the players, coaches and fans afterwards were telling as the first ACC win of the season propelled the team from 9th to 6th with one kick of the ball.

Faces in the crowd for the Duke game included former Tiger stars Ian Fuller, Hunter Gilstrap and former Herman Trophy winner and two time national champion Bruce Murray. Coach Noonan introduced Bruce to the team pre-match and gave him an opportunity to address the group. He spoke of the glory days of the program and how he sees the efforts of this current group bearing fruit for future success. Needless to say, his words of encouragement to the team did the trick as the team upset the nationally ranked Blue Devils for the biggest win of the year thus far…

We are on the cusp of the ACC Tournament and we are hitting our stride at the right time. The next ACC match for the Tigers is Sunday, the 31st vs. NC State. This is our last home game of the season, and we want to send off our senior class of Tommy Drake, Eric Cava and JD Spearman on a winning note at Riggs. So throw on your Halloween costume, get down to Riggs and help scare the Wolfpack into submission… We hope to see you there…

Go Tigers!

10/20/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

Road Trip – when those two words are uttered regardless of your age, your mind instantly takes you back. Back to a time where you are jammed into a tiny vehicle with some of your closest friends (if you were lucky) traveling the wide open spaces of our beautiful country in hopes of getting to a special place or event. In most cases, bad food, bathroom breaks and endless conversations about topics such as briefs or boxers break up the monotony. But it is certainly something to survive, not enjoy. As our men’s team piled onto a bus for a nine hour trip to College Park, Maryland last Friday, they expected much of the same. But the specialty sleeper bus provided options that few of us had ever seen before. The bus provided plenty of room for the 23 person party to stretch out, study, watch a bit of Sportcenter and surf the wireless internet on board in the lap of luxury. Now, I know what you old-timers are thinking: why do they get it so good when I had to make the same trip in a 15 passenger van? Don’t know what to tell you, but try to get over it quickly…

Once in College Park, the boys did Clemson proud once again with a spirited display in a tough 3-2 loss. Both goals scored for the Tigers were expertly executed, and the young cubs certainly earned their stripes with a performance that will propel us on to bigger and better things. But credit must also be given to our opponents for creating an excellent home field advantage for their team. Over the past couple of years, Maryland Athletics has made winning at home a commitment by organizing a fan group, creating Maryland Soccer scarves and building end zone seats on top of the goalkeeper areas. All of these factors, including a fan zone right outside the stadium help bring the crowds in and make things hot for the ref and the opposing team. They have certainly created a home field advantage often seen in football or basketball games. Now that we have experienced it first hand, it is up to the Tiger nation to show everyone what a home field advantage is. Keep your eyes on this blog for more information about future Clemson Soccer events in and around Riggs Field.

Former Clemson great Miles Joseph has been patrolling the sidelines for the defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake this season. Miles has a dual position as assistant coach with the first team and overseeing the development of their youth teams and has made quite an impact in a short amount of time. What makes Mile’s job even more challenging is that both the GM (Garth Largerway) and head coach (Jason Kreis) are former Duke Blue Devils! However, word on the street is that they work very well together and enjoy each other’s company. Really? I’m impressed…

In more ex-Tiger news, former Clemson great Oguchi Onyewu was named US National Team Captain for the US v Columbia friendly last week in Philadelphia, PA. A tremendous honor for any player, but for Oguchi, this honor caps off an amazing year. Gooch came back from a serious knee injury in 2009 and starred in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa this past summer for the US. This captaincy is well deserved.

Another Tiger making waves internationally is Stuart Holden. After a recent match vs. Manchester United, Manager Owen Coyle said after conceding a late equalizer, “He’s feeling a little hard done by because of that, but I can’t complain too much because Stuart has been magnificent for me since day one.” Stuart’s play has increased his profile in the UK and with the US National Team, and is constantly being highlighted as a player to watch.

In addition, Holden’s work with charity organizations and community groups has twice earned him the U.S. Soccer Humanitarian of the Year award. “My dad was a huge role model for me,” he says. “Anyone who’s followed me knows that. Losing him was obviously tough not only for me but for my family. He raised me and helped me become what I am. He’s proud of me and obviously I want to continue that and make my family proud every time I play, and also be a role model for younger kids playing soccer in America, to show them that they can do it, too.”

Finally, as we speak of those Blue Devils, those little buggers will be in town this Friday to start off a big four game home stand for us. Georgia Southern (Tuesday, Oct. 18 @ 7:00 p.m.), the Dukies (Oct. 22 @ 7:00 p.m.), Wofford (Oct. 27 @ 7:00 p.m.) and NC State (Oct. 31 @ 4:00 p.m.) will all be coming to Riggs, so we need to see a big support to propel us towards the conference tournament. Hope to see you there…

Go Tigers!

10/8/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

Those of us who love the game of soccer are the first to question some of the nuances of the sport. “Why is it so hard to score a goal?” is often at the top of the list. We watch the World Cup matches and see intricate patterns woven throughout the pitch until the ball lands 20 yards in front of an 8 x 24 foot monster of a goal, and somehow, even the best in the world can contrive to put the ball over the net. As infuriating as scoring can be, we can be rewarded for our loyalty with a blowout from time to time. Last Tuesday vs. Gardner Webb, the goal starved Tiger faithful were repaid for their loyalty with five for the home team. It was nice to actually sit back and watch our boys bang the ball in the back of the net after several good games with little offensive output to show for. If you haven’t seen it already, watch Tommy Drake second goal of the game on our Facebook page – as good as you will see anywhere.

So then the next question is, “How can you score five one game and then struggle to score the very next game?” We don’t have an answer for you unfortunately – Soccer is a funny old game. The 1-1 overtime draw vs. Boston College Friday night was certainly a frustrating one: two penalty claims denied, Jack Metcalf’s stinging drive off the cross bar, a couple of rubber legged efforts inside the box. Soccer can take on some quirky aspects of our national pastime in that a player can hit for the cycle, then let a slow roller through his legs for the winning run. Soccer gives all players opportunities to attack and defend and with so many possibilities, the most simple of chances are the ones that are spurned. So bittersweet, isn’t it?

Speaking of baseball, soccer people also love acting as missionaries of the sport and enjoy when we can convert others to the beautiful game. Once such gentleman is none other than Jack Leggett, our esteemed baseball coach and sports junkie. He has been a regular at the home matches, and come by to speak to the team at training the other day…BTW, Jack Metcalf’s rugby tackle in the second half vs. BC may get the interest of another coach on campus!

We are on our way to College park this weekend, but will be back for two home matches vs. Georgia Southern (Tuesday the 19th) and Duke (Friday the 22nd). Both games will be at 7:00 p.m. at Historic Riggs Field. Come and be seen with the beautiful people watching the beautiful game…

Go Tigers!

10/3/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

It’s Sunday morning and everyone is trying to catch their breath from the weekend’s festivities during Homecoming. But the men’s soccer team will be back after it this afternoon to prepare for non-conference rival Gardner-Webb on Tuesday night in Clemson. There is no rest for the weary as the boys get ready for the second of a four game home stand after spending much of September on the road.

While the legs are weary, the minds and hearts of the Tigers will still be bright based on the 1-0 victory over SLU Friday night. The energy on campus was palpable on Wednesday, and the boys certainly did their part to keep it going at Historic Riggs Field. Riley Sumpter scored his team leading third goal of the campaign, freshman GK Cody Mizell earned his second shutout of the season and the entire group bounced back well after an uncharacteristic performance at Charlotte early in the week. The team’s play was energetic and with some additional sharpness in the final third, we are starting to see what Clemson could actually be this season. The work rate, one and two touch passing, unselfish play on both sides of the ball and a fighting spirit are just some of the qualities that are endearing them to the Tiger faithful.

Homecoming is a time for reminiscing, and with Saint Louis in town this weekend, it brought back good memories for all college soccer fans. Clemson and SLU are two of a handful of programs that have a significant history in men’s soccer and we were honored to have the 8 time national champions visit South Carolina. Both programs have earned multiple national championships, fielded standout all-Americans and always produced exciting, attacking teams. With the strong St Louis flavor in our teams over the years, it is a rivalry that is unique to say the least. After our win Friday night, we hold a slight 5-4-1 advantage in the rivalry that dates back to the 70’s. As a program, we are looking forward to renewing similar interregional rivalries in the future to compliment our already difficult slate of ACC and southeastern opponents. To be the best, you need to beat the best and Clemson men’s soccer will be looking for those types of challenges in the coming years.

Reunions also bring us back to what is important in life – lying about our age and pretending we are younger than we actually are. Coach Jones finally turned 30 this week and as the older members of the coaching staff have told him – it is all downhill from here. His parents David and Julie traveled from Liverpool, England to Tiger town to celebrate with their youngest son this weekend and they were certainly a big hit. They dove head first into all the Homecoming events including their first football game Saturday. Their charm, humor and grace has caused all of us to question – “Where did it all go wrong for Phil?”

Finally, our homecoming weekend was not only highlighted with a big win, but further complimented by the honor of all the soccer alums that made the effort to come back to campus this weekend. From a post game social at TD’s Friday night, to a post-football bbq under the stands of Riggs, the soccer program reached out to the people who have made Clemson soccer what it is – the former players themselves. We are humbled by the pride and passion that all of our alums have in their own accomplishments and in our current program. With the plans for a renovation of Riggs and the new direction of the program, all of us are excited about the synergy that is being created by the former players and our current group. Thank you again for everyone who was in attendance, and please keep your calendars open for next year’s event. We want to build this weekend up to add more and more to the experience so it encourages as big of a group back to Clemson as possible. Until then, please send us any thoughts or suggestions on how we could do this. Your input is important to us. That’s it for now….see you at Riggs on Tuesday as we take on Gardner Webb. Game time is 7:00 pm…

Go Tigers!

9/28/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

UVA 1 Clemson 0 – pretty standard, right? Defending national champions come to town and control the game from start to finish against a hard working, but young Tigers side. That would be the logical storyline for anyone who read the score in the papers the next day. However that was not the case. The young cubs passed the ball around, through and over the Cavaliers for 90 minutes while administering a stifling defense throughout. Outshot the Cavs 6-4….corners earned 6-1. Goalkeeper Cody Mizell did not have to make a save. Game lost on a volley off the post with less than three minutes to go – how cruel can soccer be? Any lover of the sport that was in attendance at Riggs Saturday night certainly was questioning the soccer gods after that one. It was bittersweet, but a certainly a performance to build on…

The boys will be loading up on the bus later today for a trip to Charlotte after a spirited workout last night. The session wasn’t on Riggs as is the tradition on Monday night due to heavy rain. Our respect for the sacred turf of Riggs is such that we looked for alternatives. Our football colleagues were good enough to lend us the astro-turf field in their training complex, but as we stepped on the pitch last night, the lightning sirens went off full blast – TO THE INDOOR TRACK GENTLEMEN!! With rain and lightning coming down full pelt, it was satisfying to the coaching staff that the team covered the distance in record time…

The men’s and women’s doubleheader this Friday will highlight the alumni weekend for the Clemson Soccer community. We will be gathering throughout the weekend for social events in and around the soccer and football games and are expecting a great turnout. Former players will be flying in from all corners of the country for this one. We will honor all of our past alums who will be in attendance Friday night at halftime, with special mentions of our 1975, 1985 and 2005 teams. If you have not done so, please contact the soccer office at pjones2@clemson.edu. We have a good group that will be attending the Miami v Clemson nationally televised game on Saturday and we look forward to seeing some old friends and making some new ones. Please encourage any soccer fan to go to our Facebook page (Clemson Men’s Soccer Facebook Page) and become a friend of Clemson men’s soccer. That’s it for now…see you at Riggs on Friday…

Go Tigers!

9/23/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

Everyone involved with the team is walking around campus with a smile on their face this morning after our 1-0 overtime win vs. Furman in Greenville last night. The long awaited victory has not come soon enough, but it certainly reflects a run of 2-3 games where the boys have put in solid performance – it was nice to see them finally get rewarded. Nicky Burton’s right foot (used normally ONLY to kick start his motorcycle) ended a match where our Tigers dominated much of the contest possession wise and certainly had the Paladins on the back foot throughout the second half and OT. As in any athletic contest, much goes on behind the scenes that add to the drama and this game was no different. Storylines to accompany this success include a walk on’s first college match, a steadying influence at the back and an infamous beard.

Matt Erasmus at the start of the fall semester was like any other freshman on campus, settling into his dorm and getting ready for classes to begin. A few weeks ago, he came for an open tryout and did enough to catch the coaching staff’s eye. Fast forward to Tuesday, and this unheralded walk on was in the first team getting ready for our upcoming game at Furman. How did this happen? Injuries, suspensions and good performances in training created an opportunity for the soft spoken Matt, and it was obvious that he was determined to make the most of it. But the drama didn’t end there – he awoke with a sore throat the morning of the game and was diagnosed with strep throat! Undeterred, the freshman from Greensboro, NC played all 96 minutes at right back and looked like he had been there many times before with a composed performance. A great debut and a great story…

A team is only as good as their collective efforts on defense and the center back pairing of Junior Francklin Blaise and Freshman Alex Stockinger is beginning to take shape. A different pair of players you may not ever meet. Francklin is from Miami and Alex is originally from Norway. Francklin is the powerful, dynamic athlete while Alex is cerebral and tactical. They have put in countless hours on the training pitch working together to fine tune their efforts at the heart of the team’s defensive shape. As their play has improved, the overall defensive efforts of the squad have gotten better and better reflected by a lone penalty conceded in the last 200 minutes of soccer. While a buddy movie may not be in the works, Clemson Soccer is certainly benefiting from these two standouts early in the 2010 season.

Finally, Coach Mike Noonan has maintained a tradition since he was a freshman in college to not shave from the first day of preseason until the first win. With a successful career as a player and coach, it has never taken more than 1 or 2 games to clean up his mug – until this season…Five games and seven week’s worth of facial hair have built up to a formidable beard that any mountain man would be proud to possess. After last night’s win, we are happy to report that it will all come off this morning in the Clemson House barber shop under a very sharp blade and lots of shaving cream! His wife and two young daughters are rejoicing as we speak…

That’s it for now…get yourself down to Historic Riggs Field on Saturday night for a big ACC battle between the Tigers and the defending national champion UVA Cavaliers. It will be a packed house and we need the atmosphere to be cranked up full tilt! Hope to see you there…

9/13/10

Greetings from Tiger town!

Welcome to team blog for the 2010 Clemson Men’s Soccer season. Throughout the season, you will be given an insider’s look at the goings on with the team. For obvious reasons, we will keep it interesting and fun without giving any “family secrets” away and/or gross anyone out. So with that being said, sorry, there will not be any insights on our new set piece or about Erik Mozzo’s hygiene issues. So the goal is to keep it interesting, amusing and hopefully discreet. But to be fair to Erik with close to 30 guys running around, sweating, and rolling in the grass; it is not a pretty sight. Neither is the team’s locker room as it is starting to resemble a barn in appearance and odor.

Last Friday, the boys put in a spirited effort against nationally ranked Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. The game was in the balance throughout the 90 minutes and we were unlucky not to get something from the game. This week we are preparing for our second ACC match at Virginia Tech. Everyone has bounced back from the defeat with spirited training sessions over the past couple of days. In addition, players have been in our team room going over game clips with coaches and on their own. Coach Prostko is the resident genius regarding match analysis and spends countless hours preparing video for the staff and players. His efforts are certainly making a difference. In addition, the players have been staying after practice to sharpen techniques and improve performance with members of the coaching staff.

A positive attitude is everything when you are competing at the highest levels of sport. The team has embraced Coach Noonan’s leadership and we are coming into our upcoming matches with increased energy. But to keep things in perspective, we still have our challenges with so many new players and coaches. Our biggest thus far is learning the alma mater as it is sung after every home match!

With that in mind, be sure to join us on the 25th as defending national champions UVA will be in town. The fan experience on Friday nights at Riggs is one of the best in college soccer so we hope to see you there. Even better, be a road warrior and make the short trek to Furman on the 22nd. The staff recommends the Monterrey Mexican restaurant just off campus for a pre-match snack.

In addition, we will be running several social events during the October 1-3 Alumni weekend on campus. The team will play SLU on Friday night, host an alumni match on Saturday morning, a pre-game tailgate later that day before the Clemson v Miami game and hold a limited amount of tickets for the football game. It will be a weekend that can’t be missed! Please contact Coach Noonan directly at 864-656-1945 to find out more and reserve tickets for both games.

The support from the Clemson community so far has been inspiring and that means everything to the players and staff. Please tell any and all Tiger supporters to join our Facebook page (Clemson Men’s Soccer Facebook Page) and we will continue to keep everyone up to date with the 2010 Clemson Tiger Soccer team.

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