Note: The following appears in the Boston College gameday football program.
Sept. 13, 2000 will always be a landmark day in Clemson women’s soccer history. That night, the Tigers defeated the nation’s preeminent program, North Carolina, 2-1 before a near capacity crowd of 2,000 fans at Riggs Field.
North Carolina was ranked No. 1 in both polls and was the defending national champion. The Tar Heels, coached by the legendary Anson Dorrance, who is still the coach at North Carolina, had won 37 consecutive ACC matches dating to 1994.
The winning goal that night was scored with just 15:19 remaining in the match by sophomore Deliah Arrington, then a rising star of the Clemson program.
Tonight, Arrington will be the first Tiger soccer player to be inducted into the Clemson Ring of Honor, the highest accolade a Tiger student-athlete can receive.
I asked her what she remembered about that night nearly 20 years ago.
“What don’t I remember?! I remember everything about that game. The crowd was terrific. It was an electric atmosphere.”
Arrington scored the winning goal from 25 yards out. Nancy Augustyniak, who scored the first goal for Clemson just 13:19 earlier, sent a ball to Lea Shreve, who flicked it ahead with her head to Arrington, who shot the ball towards the goal.
“That ball rolled forever and seemed like it was in slow motion before it went in.
“Coach (Ray) Leone had us work on a play over and over leading up to that match. I scored on that play.”
Clemson improved its record to 8-0 with the win and moved to a still-program-best No. 2 ranking in the national polls. Clemson finished No. 5 in the nation that year, also the highest final ranking for the program. The Tigers won the ACC regular-season championship for the first time and totaled a school-record 19 victories.
Scoring the winning goal against North Carolina in 2000 was not the only reason Arrington is being inducted into the Clemson Ring of Honor. She finished her career with a still-record 50 goals and was named 2002 ACC Player-of-the-Year as a senior when she led the ACC in goals and points. She was a three-time First-Team All-ACC selection, still one of only two Tigers to accomplish the feat, and the first two-time All-American in Clemson history. She was also a freshman All-American in 1999 and a strength All-American as a senior.
Clemson reached the NCAA Tournament all four years Arrington was on the team and was ranked in the top 25 in 48 of 52 polls. Clemson finished the season ranked in the top 11 in the nation three times in her four years, including two top-10 rankings.
Like many of the stories of athletes in the Clemson Ring of Honor, Arrington was not highly recruited. She was an outstanding athlete, but her high school did not have a women’s soccer team. In fact, she played just one year of high school soccer…on a men’s team.
“I did play on a club team in Charleston, but I put more time into track my last three years.”
Arrington was well aware of the Clemson athletic tradition before she stepped on campus in August 1999. Her father, Vandell Arrington, was a three-year football letterman during an era when the Tigers had a 30-2-2 record from 1981-83. That included the 1981 national championship season, when Vandell had the honor of wearing #1.
“I grew up around the Paw and we went to football games,” said Deliah.
Being familiar with Clemson at an early age certainly helped the Tiger women’s soccer program in the recruiting process, but it was her attendance at a Clemson summer soccer camp that made a bigger difference.
“I came to camp here and saw how much fun it would be to play for Tracy and Ray Leone (married head coaches of the program at the time). I could see it would be fun to play for them, and that experience at camp sealed the deal.”
Arrington is very appreciative of the Leones and the way they coached her.
“They took a chance on me because I was pretty raw when I got here. Ray used to work with me after practice when I started. He saw if I put in a little extra, it would pay off in the future.”
A first-round draft pick by Philadelphia in the women’s professional soccer league of the era, Arrington returned to Clemson after her soccer career and earned her degree in 2004. She is now the site coordinator at George Mason’s Potomac Science Center.