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Nov 21, 2021

Extended Match Preview: No. 8 Clemson Set to Face Denver in Round of 32

By: Cecelia Macchione

CLEMSON, S.C. — The Clemson men’s soccer team (13-5, 5-3 ACC) is set to face Denver (10-3-5, 4-1-1 Summit League) on Sunday, November 21 at 7 p.m in the NCAA Tournament round of 32. This will be the Tiger’s 34th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance as they were selected as the No. 8 seed with a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the round of 32 and 16. This will be Head Coach Mike Noonan’s eighth tournament berth in the past nine seasons. 

The Tigers are 55-28-6 all-time in the NCAA tournament and have reached the championship four times, earning national titles in 1987 and 1984. 

Clemson and Denver are meeting for just the second time in the programs’ history. The last time the Tigers faced the Denver Pioneers was in the NCAA quarterfinals of the 2016 postseason tournament where No. 3 Clemson fell 0-1 to No. 4 Denver at Historic Riggs Field. 

This past season the Tigers were led in goals by Isaiah Reid, (7) scoring three goals in just his first two games of the year. Both Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador and Isaiah Reid tied for most points in the season with 17 each. Senior goalkeeper, George Marks, is ranked 32nd in the nation in both save percentage (0.778) and shutouts (6). After Clemson’s run in the ACC Tournament, Marks moved into sole possession of third place on Clemson’s all-time leaderboard with 20 solo shutouts; a win against Dever would put him in sole possession of third place on Clemson’s all-time leaderboard with 45 career wins.  

The Tigers enter the NCAA tournament after a hard-fought 0-1 loss to the Duke Blue Devil in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament. The Tigers created numerous opportunities during the game but were unable to convert due to Duke’s back line that was content to wait behind the ball and park the bus. 

Denver is led by both Lukas Fisher and Kengo Ohira who each have 4 goals, 2 assists, and 10 points on the season. Ohira scored the game-winning goal vs. Grand Canyon during the 24th minute to give Denver the win during the first round. 

Denver is 5-8-1 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to forfeiting in 2020 due to the Covid-19 protocol, the Pioneers lost in the first round vs. Missouri State in 2019. In the second round, Denver is 1-2 all-time with a win over UNLV in 2016 and losses to Air Force (2018) and SMU (2015). 

There were five Clemson players who made the All-ACC team this year. Oskar Ågren, the lone Tiger made first-team All-ACC. The trio, Hamady Diop, George Marks, and Ousmane Sylla, are on the second team All-ACC. On third-team All-ACC, Quinn McNeil. Denver is home to the Summit League’s defensive player of the year, Liam Johnson.

Additionally, the Pioneers have three players on the first team All-Summit League (Stefan DeLeone, Liam Johnson, and Aidan O’Toole), three players on the second-team All-Summit League (Destan Norman, Kengo Ohira, and Ronan Wynne), and more players on the all-newcomer team for the Summit League (Will DeSantis, Oje Ofunrein, and Trevor Wright). 

The winner of the game between Clemson and Denver will face the winner of No. 9 Kentucky vs. Santa Clara. Should the Tigers move on to the round of 16, the match will be played on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. 

All tickets for the NCAA Tournament are general admission; adult tickets (18+) are $8 and youth tickets are $3. Students get free entry upon displaying their All-In Rewards App. To purchase tickets for the NCAA Tournament, please visit