CLEMSON, S.C. – The second-ranked Clemson men’s soccer team fell to third-ranked North Carolina on First Friday at Historic Riggs Field. The Tar Heels grabbed the game winner in the 86th minute to defeat the Tigers 1-0 in this seasons ACC opener.
For most of the first half, both teams were trading possession. Sophomore goalkeeper Ximo Miralles continued his strong playmaking key saves to keep the score even through the first 33 minutes. Clemson was awarded a penalty kick in the 35th minute; senior Iman Mafi stepped to spot, but North Carolina’s James Pyle came up with the key save to keep the score even at zero. With three minutes left in the half, North Carolina was in behind the Clemson defense, and again Miralles came up with the huge save from point-blank range. The Tar Heels and Tigers would head into the half tied at zero.
Early in the second half, North Carolina had two great opportunities to take the lead, but sophomore Patrick Bunk-Andersen was able to step in front to make the blocks. In the 58th minute, Clemson had a flurry of shots and was pressuring the back line of North Carolina but couldn’t find a breakthrough. With 20 minutes remaining in the second, Miralles was beaten off the dribble, but senior Alex Happi was able to clear the ball from inside the six. In the 86th minute, junior Zach Wright from North Carolina used his paced and beat the Clemson defense and slotted home the game winner.
“Great college soccer game tonight. I want to give a huge shout out to our fans; they were fantastic tonight. I just wish we could have grabbed the game winner,” said Head Coach Mike Noonan. “We have played against four great teams so far this season and tonight we didn’t have the ball roll our way.”
In the match, Clemson took a total of 20 shots to North Carolinas ten. Ximo Miralles had five saves for the Tigers.
Clemson travels to No. 15 Virginia on Friday, Sept. at 7 p.m. in Charlottesville for the Tigers first ACC road test.
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