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Captain’s Corner No. 2

Sept. 21, 2000

Senior midfielder Mike Potempa has agreed to give fans an inside look at Clemson Men’s Soccer with his journal, Captain’s Corner. Be sure to check out to see what the Hunt Valley, Md. native has to say about the Tiger soccer team throughout the year.

The Charleston Southern Game

Wednesday night games are always a challenge. The reason being that we usually don’t know too much about our opponent. It’s not like an ACC match where you know everyone who is starting, who their reserves are, how they play, and what strengths and weaknesses they have.

Charleston Southern is a team who had a five and one record, just came off of two tremendous results against N.C. State and Stetson, and who were obviously looking to come in and get a result against us. In the past, it hasn’t been a game that has given us too much trouble. However, they did have a good record coming in, they had beaten N.C. State, and apparently they had some good recruits come in from Trinidad. Our game plan was to respect them and not allow them to play. We wanted to play in their half, not let them in behind us, and get as many goals early as we could and break their spirit.

Like at Duke, our warm-up was sharp. Everyone seemed to be in it mentally and physically, and seemed anxious to get back out on the field and continue what we started at Duke.

The coin toss resulted in them getting the kick with us defending the tennis courts. We high pressured them right from the opening whistle. They played the ball to their left back who tried to play a long ball over the top of us. Douglas brought the ball down with his feet and we worked out of the back. With some combination play from Kenny and Mark, and good mobility up front, we got a low service across their goal mouth just out of the reach of Ian but right in the path of Fabio who slotted the ball in. We were up 1-0 in the first 49 seconds. Then about two minutes later, Andy Heck made a diagonal run in the box and was fouled resulting in a penalty which Fabio put in.

Two minutes after the penalty, Ian made a great individual effort to beat the keeper and slot the ball far post for his first goal of the year. After the first three goals, the game started to get a bit of rhythm to it. We worked the ball around a bit, in and out of pressure, and got around the back with some superb crosses from Gooch, Kenny, Mark, and Ricki. About 20 minutes in, they got in behind us and tried to play a low cross but I was able to get there in time and intercept it. I saw Mark a little above the half way line and I was able to play a driven ball to him just over the defenders head. He combined with Ian and put away the fourth goal.

When you get up 4-0 in the first 20 minutes, concentration can become an issue. Some of the guys don’t get the ball as much as they usually do and a team like Charleston Southern (who was looking to sit back and counter) can be dangerous if you commit to many guys forward and don’t have cover for them, which is exactly what happend. One of our guys tried to play a long diagonal ball to Gooch which was intercepted at the midfield line. Their player created a one on one, the ball deflected off of my foot giving it just enough spin to roll past Doug, hit the post, and bounce in.

When defenders find themselves in a game like this, it is extremely frustrating to give up a goal. Shutouts are extremely important and it was disappointing to give up a goal to a team that you know should not be able to score on you. But we recovered quite well, made some substitutions, and went into the locker room 4-1 at half time.

In the second half, we maintained possession and continued to be sharp. At the 58th minute mark, a service came across from the left side from Chase who was stunning all evening, and it was volleyed back across the goal mouth from Fabio and bounced off of one of their defenders and went in. (He tried to get credit for it for a hat trick….good try Fab.)

About a minute later, Andre got the ball at about the thirty, took on two defenders and shot from just outside the 18 yard box and went in off of a deflection. It was still a great goal and Andre’s first of his career here at Clemson. (Congratulations)

We were able to stick to the game plan for the rest of the game as we got services from the flanks which created many opportunities. Ian had probably his best game from an attacking standpoint all year as he took guys on, and forced the keeper to make some great saves. Mark also seems like he is getting used to his mask as he played a great game too (by the way..he had an unbelievable free kick that bounced off the crossbar straight down and out).

Overall, it was a good performance, and we were able to put together a full 90 minutes. Everyone played well and we were all excited with the result. Now its time to prepare for N.C. State. We need to build off of our past two games and take what we’ve learned from them into our third ACC game on Sunday. Ever since I’ve been here, N.C. State has always created problems for us so it should be a great game to see. So if you’re in the area or have nothing to do on Sunday, we would love for you to come out and support us. If you have been all year, we appreciate it. See you on Sunday!