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Clemson Men’s Soccer Blog

Clemson Men’s Soccer Blog


Clemson Men’s Soccer Blog – the Thanksgiving edition…

Greetings from Clemson Men’s Soccer! The off-season has come like a freight train hitting all of us face first – and it has certainly left a mark. Closing with a six game undefeated streak, no one wanted this season to end. With so much accomplished in the 2011 season, it is hard to believe that the boys will not play a match until next Spring. It stings a bit. Not for any other reason but this group loved to play – their enthusiasm was apparent to friends and foes alike. It was the type of team that no one wanted to line up against. Down a man or down a goal, it didn’t matter. These guys were resilient. What keeps everyone positive is that the future looks bright with all but one player returning in 2012.

However, this is the time of year to take stock in what we have and it is with that in mind that we are thankful to the 2011 Tigers for:

Ara Amirkhanian: his vital goal in our 2-1 overtime win at NC State. The Clemson, SC product played in all 18 games as a true freshman and was the closest thing to a local yokel on the pitch for Clemson Men’s Soccer since John Wilson of Seneca in the late nineties. Brandon Burkholder: his flip throw in – very funky.Alex Burnikel: his Terminator knee brace that has cracked many a teammate in training. Amadou Dia: the quickest goal in Clemson history vs. Wake Forest after 24 seconds. The goal complimented a solid rookie campaign that saw “T” named to the All ACC Freshman team.Josh Doran: his 4.0 GPA and improving soccer tennis game…Bastien Bacro-Duverger: his amazing second half performance. Have you ever heard of a redshirt freshman starting in his very first college soccer game and not stepping off the field for the reminder of the season?? Remarkable…Matt Erasmus: going the whole season without yelling once.Chris Glodack: his south American side winder punts – very nice.Bo Godwin: taking all the abuse in good humor after we beat his beloved Auburn in football back in September – Ha! Ha!Tyler Happ: his nasty left peg…Matt Hilton: HIS nasty left peg…Phanuel Kavita: his game winning goal vs # 1 ranked Maryland. With his right foot…left peg isn’t that good…Francklin Blaise and Nick Burton: for their leadership during personal times of struggle. After suffering season ending injuries, these two influential seniors had to find different ways to lead. Both were a constant presence at training and matches while coaching their young teammates and putting their own needs second. Great leaders, great competitors and back for one more season to show everyone how it is done!Jack McCoy: for his `Bend it like Beckham’ free kicks.Jack Metcalf: for his `Bend it like Beckham’ haircut…Cody Mizell: for his game saving stop vs. NC State in overtime. He dove across the goal to smother the ball on the goal line as the Wolfpack bench spilled onto the pitch expecting a goal – a big-time play. Cody was recognized by making the All-ACC second team for the 2011 season. Erik Mozzo: for his solid performance vs. top 20 Charlotte. In his first Clemson appearance, Erik went all 90 minutes in a tough 3-1 loss, making several key saves.Kyle Murphy: for his obvious potential. This redshirt year was well utilized as Kyle put in the work on the training pitch consistently. All of us are looking forward to seeing him perform in 2012…Ben Myers: for his game winning goal vs. South Carolina in front of seven thousand screaming supporters at Historic Riggs Field – nothing more to say really…Wes Nelson: for that pace to track down opponents every game…Keegan Priest: for his game winning assist vs. # 1 Maryland in his last game at Historic Riggs Field – get goose bumps just thinking about it…Austin Savage: for his wonder goal at VT to win the game 2-1…the celebration needs a bit of work though…Iain Smith: for his first college goal vs. BC – a matter of fact, HIS celebration was a bit dodgy as well!Alex Stockinger: no goals, no celebrations, just tough as nails performances game in and game out from the sophomore central mid/defender. Lassiter Tollison: for his non-stop banter and energy. A sense of humor goes a long way during the ins and out of a college season. Brynjar Benediktsson: for his penchant for scoring late goals. In two consecutive games, the “Scandinavian Scourge” tallied game winning goals with seconds remaining vs. NC State and Gardner-Webb, respectively. His seven goals led the team as a freshman, and he was named to the All-ACC Freshman team. Team trainer Jerome “Raz” Razayeski: for his bedside manner. Also for his intimate knowledge of the best places to eat throughout the southeast corner of the US.Assistant Wolde Harris: for providing a shining example to our team on how to study properly…Assistant Alex Prostko: for starting every practice by kicking all thirty soccer balls over the goal – Every. Single. Ball. …Every. Single. Day. Assistant Phil Jones: for being undefeated in soccer tennis with his trusty partner Keegan Priest for almost two years only to lose the last day of the season vs. Austin Savage and Jack McCoy. What???Assistant John Murphy: for wearing the wrong gear at training…Every. Single. Day.Head Coach Mike Noonan: hey, I’m not about to poke fun at the head coach…he knows who writes this thing…

Even though the season is over, it is a great time to be a Tiger…

That’s it for now…be sure to follow us 24/7/365: On Clemson Men’s Soccer Home Page Facebook: Clemson University Men’s Soccer Twitter: ClemsonSoccer

The Clemson Tiger Nation is growing everyday – remember: ONE CLEMSON=CLEMSON UNITED!


The blog is back!

“The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…one step at a time.” -Joe Girard

We’ve played eight games since the last blog, but all anyone wants to talk is about the Maryland game.

They don’t want to talk about the UNC game.Clemson 2, Maryland 1 They don’t want to talk about the Elon game.Clemson beats the #1 ranked team in the country. They don’t want to talk about the big win vs. # 14 BC.Clemson wins on national TV. They don’t want to talk about the Furman game.Clemson played down a man for over 70 minutes. They don’t want to talk about our win vs. Adelphi.Two freshmen scored to beat the Terps. They don’t want to talk about the ETSU game.Senior Keegan Priest was inspirational on his last home game in leading the young Tigers to victory. They don’t want to talk about our win at Wofford.The Clemson Tigers found a way to create magic on Historic Riggs Field once again.

So, do you want to talk about the Maryland game?

Well, who am I to get in the way of popular demand? The Maryland match was special – but just one out of seventeen in the 2011 season. To keep perspective as a member of the Tiger nation is important as we enter the key part of the season. Think about some of the other games that have taken place lately: to come back three days later to win at Wofford against a tough Terriers squad is worth talking about. “T” Dia came off the bench to score a vital goal with 15 minutes to go as the back four worked tirelessly to preserve the shutout. The big win vs. Boston College also merits mention. Freshman Iain Smith scored late to seal the win while junior Austin Savage played a great two way game to keep the Eagles at bay. Playing at ETSU with an injury deprived roster and getting a gutsy result was as good an effort as we have seen all year from this group. Walk on freshman Bastian Barco-Duverger played all 110 minutes in his first college start and was solid as a rock.

Bottom line: this team is coming together at the end of the season, but they have certainly shown through the year that they had character and belief. This is the type of team that any sports fan would admire as they have the qualities that all good teams have – heart, talent and work rate.

Here are some fun facts from SID veteran Sam Blackman about the 2011 Tigers:

Brynjar Benediktsson leads the Tigers in scoring with seven goals and four assists for 18 points. If the season were to end today, he would be the first freshman to lead the Tigers in scoring since Jimmy Glenn in 1990. Only four freshmen have led Clemson in scoring in the program’s storied history. They include: Rennie Phillips (1974, 39 points), Godwin Ogbueze (1975, 36 points), Nnamdi Nwokocha (1979, 63 points) and Jimmy Glenn (1990, 43 points).

The five home victories are the most since the 2008 season.

The Tigers averaged 2,002 fans in 2111 in their nine home dates this season. Currently, this figure is second in the ACC behind Maryland. The Tigers should be ranked again in the NCAA top 20 in this category. Clemson has finished in the top 20 in this category for the last 11 seasons.

Jack Metcalf has five assists this year. It marks only the third sophomore in the last 11 years to lead the team in assists.

Clemson’s victory over number-one ranked Maryland marks the first time since 2006 that the Tigers have defeated a number-one ranked team. The Tigers have a 4-4-1 record against number one ranked team’s when matches are played at Clemson, SC.

Sam was honored by Coach Noonan in the locker room before the Maryland game for 25 years of service to Clemson University and the men’s soccer program. He was given a signed ball from the team as a sign of appreciation and the positive feelings pregame certainly carried over onto the pitch. Thanks Sam for all that you do!

The Tigers will be on the road for a big ACC tilt at Virginia Tech before starting the ACC tournament next week. With the ACC being as tight as ever, our position in the seeding will come down to several results on Thursday – very exciting! With so much to play for, it is a great time to be a Tiger.

That’s it for now….be sure to follow us 24/7/365: On Clemson Men’s Soccer Home Page Facebook: Clemson University Men’s Soccer Twitter: ClemsonSoccer

The Clemson Tiger Nation is growing everyday – remember: ONE CLEMSON=CLEMSON UNITED!


Revenge of the BLOG!!

In honor of Halloween, we will have a creepy edition to the Clemson men’s soccer blog . So many twists and turns on and off the field, it is enough to raise the hairs of the bravest of souls. “My heart nearly stopped,” said Coach Noonan as we beat Gardner Webb in double overtime last week. Yes indeed…

Success is not a smooth climb to the top of the mountain; there are bumps along the way. But it is the bumps that bring a group together…the bumps that create learning situations for individuals to grow…the bumps that lead to future glories. Tough to keep that in mind while the season is going on, but good to go back to from time to time as the young Tigers work towards the lofty standards of Coach Noonan and the Clemson Men’s Soccer program.

Any who…with October 31st quickly approaching, the blog man has creatively used campy horror movie titles from the 50’s and 60’s to set the table for the past three weeks or so. The blog will cover the good, the bad and the ugly (sorry, that’s a western) I hope you like it. Mmmwwwwwahaha!!!!!

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – The weather forecast for September 5 warned of such weather that the locals were tying down anything loose to prepare for the violent storm that was going to carry us all away like Dorothy and Toto. So much so, that our game vs. UNC-Greensboro was postponed, Unfortunately, Mother Nature did a Jeckle and “hide” as the storm passed by the upstate keeping us safe and sound, but forcing us to miss another cherished chance of playing on Historic Riggs. Diabolical…

Back from the Dead – The consecutive losses to Wake Forest, Duke and UNC Charlotte were tough on all of us who love the mighty Soccer Tigers. However, the boys bounced back well with back to back last second overtime victories vs. NC State and Gardner Webb. The past month or so has been a difficult period of injuries for the squad, but the team spirit and attitude have been outstanding. Led by injured seniors Riley Sumpter, Nick Burton, and Junior Austin Savage all four have taken on a different, but important role as leaders OFF the field as they heal. They all have been helping our youngsters through their first year of college and passing on their experiences on campus. With this type of mentality, the team will continue to be on the rise going into the second half of the season.

Monster on the Campus – Phanuel Kavita is big in every sense of the word: big guy, big personality, and big presence on the field. But as his freshman campaign moves along, he works without a great deal of fan fare or adulation. Much of his game at central defender is based on positioning and reading of the game ¡V not conducive to getting the fans out of their seats. But his value to the team is unquestioned as he has started all nine games thus far…

Tales of the Uncanny – Amadou Dia’s goal after 31 seconds vs. Wake Forest can conjure several sport analogies: a leadoff home run, a kickoff return for a touchdown, an eagle on the 1st hole, etc…Except that it doesn’t happen that often in soccer, a sport where goals are hard to score as it is. Taking it one step further, this was a goal that was the product of exceptional team work and finished with a flourish. The play started with a quick ball through the midfield to Bynjar Benediktsson, Jack Metcalf’s bombing run down the flank was met with a seeing through pass from the Icelandic attacker, Jack’s quality cross eliminating the goalkeeper and two defenders as T’s leaping header met the ball at full pelt for a stunning opening for the Tigers. A sign of things to come as two freshmen and a sophomore combined for this special strike…

The Macabre Legacy – The road can be a lonely place, particularly in the ACC. The last ACC road overtime win was in the NCAA Tournament on November 30, 2002: Clemson 2, Wake Forest 1. Wake Forest was ranked #1 in the country and the Demon Deacons were exercised on that historic day. This time around, it was the Wolf Pack that got a stake through their hearts with a last second winner from Bynjar Benediktsson in the 110th minute of the game. The ACC is annually the toughest conference for men’s soccer in the country so road wins are usually at a premium. With that in mind, this overtime victory will certainly give our team a boost going forward…

The Brainiac – One of America’s contributions to the world’s game is the flip throw in, an acrobatic movement that requires great athleticism and body control. One of our freshmen and Clemson Honors College participant, Brandon Burkholder can do a full flip with the ball and chuck it 35-40 yards almost into the opponent’s goal. It is certainly something to behold. Despite the limiting fence that surrounds Riggs, he can find enough space to run, flip and throw. Brandon can perform this quite regularly throughout the game until he gets discombobulated…think about the feeling you get from playing dizzy bats on field day and you get the idea.

Hands of a Stranger – Erik Mozzo’s appearance vs. Charlotte was special for several reasons – most importantly because he played very well. First career start as a Tiger, the 6-2 Mozzo was impressive in a 3-1 loss to a top 20 team making eight saves. The goalkeeper corps for the Tigers is as strong as any around with sophomores Cody Mizell and Mozzo, and freshman standout Chris Glodack pushing each other daily in training.

The Screaming Skull – Teams travel like armies: through their stomachs. It is imperative that the coaching staff finds quality establishments that also provide healthy options. These young men left on their own will often make bad decisions: like Ben Myers putting too much hot sauce on his sub during pre-season…the results were not pretty.

Fortunately, Dr. Loreto Jackson and team trainer Raz Razayeski help our coaches find the right place when we are on the road while refueling before the next big game. The science is covered by Dr. Jackson as she will go over the menus of selected restaurants with the staff to help the players with their choices. Raz’s job is to find the fun places to go!

One of his best selections was Tsunami Japanese Steakhouse in Concord, NC on our way to NC State. The cooks put on quite a show to the appreciation of the players. As you can see, the meal and presentation was top notch…

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies – ah, really don’t have a story to match this lead in, I just like the title

Your loyal blog master wanted to end with a Halloween theme from that master of macabre, Edgar Allen Poe. But after coming across this quote from the infamous scribe, we will end with this statement:

Man’s real life is happy, chiefly because he is ever expecting that it soon will be so. Edgar Allan Poe

How’s that for setting the table for the next couple of weeks? The boys are on the road to play UNC Chapel Hill this Friday, at Elon on Tuesday the 11th and Friday the 14th vs. Boston College. We hope to see you there – Remember, it is a great time to be a Tiger!

That’s it for now….be sure to follow us 24/7/365: On Clemson Men’s Soccer Home Page Facebook: Clemson University Men’s Soccer Twitter: ClemsonSoccer

The Clemson Tiger Nation is growing everyday – remember: ONE CLEMSON=CLEMSON UNITED!


The return of the BLOG!!

Welcome back to the Clemson men’s soccer blog – an insider’s look at the on and off the field doings of your kickin’ Panthera tigris. Did you miss us? All of us who love Clemson soccer are glad the boys are back on the pitch, and with so much optimism about the current squad and the future of the program – it is a great time to be a Tiger! The first blog of the 2011-12 season starts off with a new twist on a great tradition, an overview of preseason, our first match of the season at UAB and a record-setting night at Riggs…

Here’s a fun fact for you: July 21, 1970 is an important date in Clemson sports history. It was the day that the iconic paw logo was unveiled to the public. Hard to think of Clemson without that paw isn’t it? Well over forty years later, a new twist on our orange tradition was born. Conceived by the mind of athletic department staff member Tim Johnson, Clemson United is as much a statement as it is a logo. Creating a connection between the culture of the world’s game and our little corner of the world, Clemson United is a great platform for the 2011 season and all future seasons to help get us back to the top of college soccer. You will see Clemson United on our team’s uniforms as well as scarves to be tossed into the crowds at our home games. These will soon become collector’s items so get yourself down to Riggs and pick one up. You can say you were there when Clemson soccer took a step forward, while honoring it’s glorious past…

This August preseason was a time of optimism around Tiger Town. Brand new lights on the practice fields, a plan for the renovation of Riggs, and fifteen newcomers gave everyone involved a boost during the dog days of summer. The players were counting down the days until the first team meeting and looking forward to the challenge of the new year. The promise of the freshmen class was pleasing but with 12 upperclassmen returning, the young talent would be balanced by the leadership of the older players. It was evident that we needed the upperclassmen to come through and lead the way from minute one. This synergy of young and old was vital as we prepared for our first scrimmage only a week into the preseason.

Our journey began where it often does in preseason – on a running track at 6:30 a.m! (cue the Chariots of Fire theme…) Tests that were meant to measure and evaluate can also demoralize and break down weak individuals. Happy to say that the group was paced well by a group of fleet-footed individuals with the remainder of squad in hot pursuit. The work that was put in during the summer was evident, and the times gave the staff a good base evaluation to work from.

Training on the pitch was lively and positive, and was a result of the previous work put in by the team. The spring season was an excellent exercise for the returners as it put them in a strong position to lead by example on and off the field. In addition, Summer II gave the freshmen a chance to come to campus, get their bearings on where Schilletter Cafeteria was, and work with our strength coach Dennis Love. Both groups used those times to push themselves as individuals, to come together as a group and form a pretty tight bond as a team.

But it hasn’t been all work during preseason. On our off-day, the team traveled to the Chattooga River to enjoy the rapids and some relaxation in the cool mountain waters. The highlight had to be when Coach Alex “Rambo” Prostko led the team down a treacherous path to the whirlpool rapids; an adventure only the bravest dare tred. Unfortunately, Coaches Murphy and Jones showed their true colors and pulled up the rear moaning and groaning throughout. Rather sad really…

Preseason wins over Davidson and Winthrop by a combined score of 7-1 gave some indications that this would be a different Tiger squad in 2011. Seniors Keegan Priest and Nick Burton supplied the movement out of the midfield, and freshmen Iain Smith and Amadou Dia finished off the chances in some exciting, free flowing stuff. As in any sport, the preseason games are a good exercise, but cannot be a sole barometer for success. With that in mind, the coaching staff helped prepare the boys for the first game of the year vs. a high octane UAB in Birmingham.

The starting lineup had several fresh faces with four freshman and four sophomores on the pitch in a hostile environment with over 3,500 fans. The young Tigers started very well creating several good chances and controlling the tempo of the match. But by suffering a goal against the run of play, the team entered halftime down 1-0. The boys started where they left off in the second half and scored an excellent goal from Austin Savage to level the score. With overtime looming, UAB scored a controversial winner with less than three minutes to go that sent this young team home defeated, but not beaten. There were several positives to take from the game and everyone’s thoughts turned quickly to our upcoming game with South Carolina.

Some things just have to be experienced firsthand – otherwise, you don’t get the full effect. Friday night’s game vs. South Carolina at Historic Riggs Field was one of those occasions. With over 7,000 fanatical supporters on the hallowed grounds of Riggs vs. the Gamecocks, the locals didn’t need any more incentive for excitement. But with the stadium to be named in honor of I.M. Ibrahim, our former head coach who led the Tigers to multiple ACC championships and two national championships, the atmosphere pregame was electric.

The game started as most big games do with both teams feeling each other out. Lots of hard tackles, misplaced passes and tons of adrenaline. But with a bit of brilliance from freshman Ben Myers, the Tigers took a 1-0 lead to rapturous applause in the 21st minute. From there, it was a tight contest with goalkeeper Cody Mizell standing on his head for much of the second half. Fleet footed Dia scored the second with minutes to go and the outcome was complete. Fans stormed the field at the final whistle and sang the Alma Mater while arm and arm with our boys – the perfect ending to a great night.

Our alumni battled fatigue and sore heads to participate in our annual alumni game Saturday morning at Riggs. A great showing from classes as early as 1979 and as recent as Tommy Drake of 2010 gave our young team an example of how old heads can overcome the sands of time. The hour long, half field contest left some old sweaty guys staggering off the field, arguing over the score, and physically spent. But the powers of the human spirit were shown once again as these old timers were ready to enjoy BBQ, beverages and the football game. The day was completed by a postgame reception at Littlejohn Coliseum for both the men and women’s programs. It was well attended and much of the conversation was about the future renovation of Historic Riggs Field. The discussion on how one of the nation’s oldest athletic facilities can become one of the most modern in just a few years time was at the heart of the evening. Again, such a great time to be a Tiger!

That’s it for now….be sure to follow us 24/7/365: On Clemson Men’s Soccer Home Page Facebook: Clemson University Men’s Soccer Twitter: ClemsonSoccer

The Clemson Tiger Nation is growing everyday – remember: ONE CLEMSON=CLEMSON UNITED!