Sept. 3, 2010
For Tiger senior forward Tommy Drake, the anticipation of a new era in Clemson men’s soccer is very exciting.
Drake is a management major from Chapel Hill, NC. Surrounded by ACC foes Duke, North Carolina, and N.C. State while growing up, Drake is glad he made the decision to come to Tigertown.
“The atmosphere is what first caught my attention,” recalled Drake. “I came down on my recruiting visit and that is what really stood out. I took a couple of visits and I fell in love with the place. On top of that, it’s a great academic school as well. The facilities are top-notch and there’s nothing like playing on Historic Riggs Field.”
The Tigers are under the guidance of new Head Soccer Coach Mike Noonan. Noonan took over the men’s soccer program in January and the Tigers are on the fast track to return to the glory years of the storied program.
Noonan will be relying heavily on Drake during the transition season. “Tommy has the talent to play anywhere in the country,” said Noonan. “His leadership is very valuable to us and that is the reason he is one of our captains. He will be a catalyst for our success this season.”
Drake feels just as strong about Noonan as he enters his senior season. “I’m looking forward to this season and playing for Coach Noonan,” stated Drake. “The team has really come together. This is the tightest we have been as a team since I have been here. He has the ability to motivate players and we can all see that he knows the game and how to teach it.”
Drake began playing the sport of soccer at a very young age and has built a complete résumé during his youth as he prepared to play for Clemson in the rugged ACC.
“I started playing recreational soccer when I was five or six and I got to the point where I was pretty good,” said Drake. “My mom encouraged me to try out for some different leagues and it took off from there. I’m glad she encouraged me to play soccer when I was so young because it has been a great experience.
“As I got older, I played for Triangle Football Club. We traveled across the United States and it was a good experience for me. Two youth coaches, Marlow Campbell and Dewan Bader, probably had the most influence on me during my youth soccer career. I also got good experience at Chapel Hill Senior High School.”
Drake was a 2006 NSCAA High School All-American and a member of the North Carolina Olympic Development Program (ODP) team. With those credentials, many schools came calling, including Clemson.
As a Tiger, Drake has some great memories and has had an equally-rewarding career, but there is still much to accomplish and he is confident more memories will be made this season.
During his Clemson career, he has been a starter in each of his first three years. As a freshman in 2007, Drake was the team’s second-leading scorer when he played in 19 matches and made 13 starts. He scored five goals and had three assists for 13 points. He also had three game-winning goals as a freshman, all against top-20 foes. He scored the winner against #4 Virginia, then just five days later, he had the winner over #14 Furman. Later in the season, he scored the game-winner against #6 Boston College in a 1-0 Tiger victory.
Drake is the only freshman on record to score the game-winning goal over three top-20 teams in the same year. For his fine play that freshman season, he was named to the All-ACC Freshman squad.
During his sophomore year, he played in all 18 matches, including 14 as a starter. He finished the year with one goal and had two assists for four points. He had one assist in Clemson’s 5-2 win over #4-ranked and eventual National Champion Maryland that season.
Last year, Drake was again a starter and finished with three goals and three assists for nine points.
As far as great memories, Drake said the upset win over eventual National Champion Virginia in 2009 is at the top. “Upsetting Virginia in Charlottesville last season has to be one of the most memorable games I’ve played during my career,” admitted Drake. “It was a big win for Clemson. I also remember our wins over some other ranked teams as well. I’m looking to make more great memories this season.”
Drake has been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll and received Academic All-ACC honors during his career and will graduate from Clemson in three-and-a-half years, quite an accomplishment for someone who must deal with the hectic schedule of a varsity student-athlete.
“As far as my future plans, I want to play soccer as long as I can,” added Drake. “I’ll graduate in December, and once I’m done playing soccer, I will have my Clemson degree, so I believe I’m prepared for the future.”
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