Sept. 28, 2011
CLEMSON, SC – Making the game-winning goal, shot, hit or touchdown in any sport is something every athlete hopes to experience. Being “the one” to win the game is a feeling few athletes actually get to feel.
But for Clemson freshman Bryniar Benediktsson, this is something he has already experienced twice. Actually, he has experienced in the Tigers’ last two games.
Tuesday night, he scored the game-winner with only 10 seconds left in the second overtime period in leading Clemson to a 2-1 victory over Gardner-Webb.
“My heart about stopped,” Clemson Head Coach Mike Noonan said.
Last Friday, Benediktsson did the same thing with 29 seconds to play in the second overtime to beat NC State 2-1 in Raleigh, NC. It was the Tigers’ first ACC victory of the season.
“It’s more fun to finish with just 20 seconds left in the game,” Benediktsson said jokingly after the Tigers’ win over Gardner-Webb. “But, I should have scored during other chances. We won the game, so it is time to get ready for the next game against Virginia.”
Clemson (3-4, 1-2ACC) will play the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. this Friday night at Historic Riggs Field.
Being from Iceland, Clemson is a long way from home for Benediktsson. He traveled across the world in order to play soccer for the Tigers, and it certainly appears he made a wise decision in choosing to do so.
Tuesday’s winning goal was a little different than Benediktsson’s goal against NC State. As he approached the Gardner-Webb goalkeeper, the Bulldog keeper attacked and left the goal, leaving it wide open. Benediktsson was able to kick the ball, which rolled extremely slow and to the right of the goal, just past him, as it sneaked inside the right corner.
“I ran and saw the goalkeeper out of the goal, so I just needed to put it on the right side of him,” he said. “He wasn’t in the goal, so it was an easy one.
“I was very surprised that (the goalkeeper) came out attacking because he should have been in the goal. But that’s good for us. We scored, so I am happy.” With two-time constraining wins under his belt, is this something soccer fans can expect to continue from Benediktsson?
“Yea, of course,” he said while laughing, “but maybe not so late. We need to finish these games in 90 minutes, so I hope that the next game we finish is one of those 90 minute ones, and not 110.
“It’s good for the audience, but for us it’s maybe better to finish in 90 minutes.” With a young star emerging, it seems lucky for Clemson that it was the university Benediktsson chose to attend. But, how did a soccer player all the way in Iceland make it to Clemson, SC? His girlfriend of course.
“(Women’s coach) Eddie Radwanski, when he was at UNC-Greensboro, played with a couple of Icelandic players. One of his former teammates called Eddie about Jóna (Kristín Hauksdóttir), and Eddie communicated with Jóna,” Noonan said.
“Brynjar called and sent us stuff because Jóna was interested in Clemson. So we saw the tape, and we followed up. We saw his pedigree and we said `This guy is pretty good,’ so we flew to Portugal to watch him play, and they both came.”
Picking up such a talented player from across the world is something Clemson is thankful for. Being only a freshman, Benediktsson only has room to grow and improve, and develop into a player opposing teams will be afraid to face.
“I think the best of Brynjar is yet to come,” Noonan said. “He is still adjusting. With any international player, it takes them a while to adjust to college soccer.” If the last two matches are part of an adjustment period, then the next three and half years should be fun to watch.
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