CLEMSON, S.C. – Kimarni Smith got the Tigers on the board first, Andrew Burnikel netted a goal on his senior day and Robbie Robinson nailed a free kick goal to propel the Clemson men’s soccer team to a 3-0 shutout of the NC State Wolfpack on Saturday night at Historic Riggs Field. With the win, Clemson finished the regular season at 7-8-1 overall and 2-6-0 in the ACC, while the Wolfpack moved to 8-5-3 overall and 2-4-2 in conference play.
After a balanced first part of the first half, which saw each team take three shots, it was Smith who broke the scoreless tie in the 24th minute in favor of the Tigers, getting past the Wolfpack defense and tapping a shot into the back of the net. Clemson held that 1-0 lead through halftime, and then six minutes into the second half, a high header from Burnikel slipped over a reaching Leon Krapf to give the Tigers a two-goal advantage.
Perhaps NC State’s best scoring chance of the match came in the 65th minute, when David Loera broke away and faced Jonny Sutherland one-on-one, but the Clemson keeper made a nice save to keep the Wolfpack off the board. Sutherland finished the night with three saves.
Robinson put the Tigers up 3-0 in the 75th minute, lacing a free kick from 25 yards out straight to the back of the net, and the Clemson defense held NC State off for the remainder of the match to make that score the final.
“This is something the seniors will remember for the rest of their lives,” head coach Mike Noonan said. “I’m really proud of them. We talked before the game and in training yesterday about having the best defensive performance that we’ve had all year, and I think that Jonny [Sutherland] played well, and the whole back line was terrific.”
Clemson awaits its first ACC Tournament destination, and, regardless of location, the first round will be held on Oct. 31.