BLACKSBURG, Va. — The top-ranked Clemson men’s soccer team defeated No. 21 Virginia Tech, 1-0, on Saturday night at Thompson Field thanks to a double-overtime goal-line finish by freshman Ousmane Sylla. Sylla’s goal was the first of his career and came during his second career start. Following the match, No. 1 Clemson improved to 10-2-1 on the season, while No. 21 Virginia Tech fell to 4-4-2.
Tonight’s match was the eighth in series history to go overtime, with Clemson earning its second victory in overtime over the Hokies. Clemson now holds the advantage over Virginia Tech in matches that go to overtime, 2-1-5, following tonight.
“It was a gritty and great result off of a good performance from the team,” said head coach Mike Noonan. “Virginia Tech was exceptionally well prepared and made the match difficult. Our young team stayed focused on their task and finally broke through. I’m very proud of the group!”
Clemson’s first quality opportunity came in the fifth minute of play, as a delightful ball from Charlie Asensio found the foot of James Brighton 12 yards out from goal. After a one-time flick from Brighton with his back to goal, the ball bounced off the right post. The two sides went into halftime with the score at nil-nil.
A hard-fought second half saw aggressive play and chances from both sides of the ball. After 85 minutes of scoreless play, Callum Johnson nearly found the go-ahead goal for the Tigers after carrying the ball into the box and registering a shot placed towards the center of the net after a half-turn attempt from seven yards out.
After 16 minutes of overtime action, a charging Charlie Asensio fended off a Virginia Tech defender before placing a floating ball into the box, forcing Virginia Tech’s Matt Zambetti to make an acrobatic save on a headed shot by Brighton. With the ball resting on the goal-line, Sylla calmly slotted it home to clinch the victory.
Sylla’s goal in the 107th minute became Clemson’s latest game-winning goal in series history, eclipsing Hassan Ibrahim’s goal at the 102:18 mark on Sept. 21, 2008, as Clemson took that match, 3-2.
Hamady Diop earned his first career start with Clemson by slotting into the center of the Tigers’ defense. Diop made his first appearance with the program as a first-half substitute last weekend against Syracuse. Charlie Asensio made his 50th career start for Clemson on Saturday, earning the start at left-back. Asensio leads the team in minutes this season after having played (1,105) minutes during the first 13 matches of the campaign.
107’ – Ousmane Sylla (J. Brighton)
After an initial ball in by Charlie Asensio from 40 yards out was headed on goal by James Brighton, Virginia Tech’s Matt Zambetti made an acrobatic save to keep the ball out of the net. As the ball bounced in front of goal, Ousmane Sylla used a hard one-touch finish to put the game-winning goal into the net.
Clemson 1, Virginia Tech 0
Clemson men’s soccer will return home for its next match, as the Tigers are set to host NC State at Historic Riggs Field on Saturday, March 20, at 7 p.m. Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on ACCNX, with admission free for all 1,000 spectators permitted to be in attendance.
For all of the most up-to-date information regarding Clemson men’s soccer, be sure to reference clemsontigers.com and follow @ClemsonMSoccer on Twitter.