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Nov 25, 2023

Women’s Soccer Beats Penn State, 2-1, to Advance to College Cup

NOVEMBER 25, 2023
FINAL SCORE: (1) Clemson 2, (2) Penn State 1
RECORDS: Clemson 18-3-4; Penn State: 16-3-4
CLEMSON GOALS: Makenna Morris (69th minute), Caroline Conti (84th minute)


CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson women’s soccer advanced to the College Cup for the first time in its history with a 2-1 win over second-seeded Penn State (16-3-4) in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal at Historic Riggs Field. The Tigers (18-3-4) scored a pair of goals in the second half, including a screamer from Makenna Morris in the 69th minute and the game-winner from Caroline Conti in the 84th minute. Conti was set up on a beautiful feed from near midfield by Harper White.

The team joined the 2004 and 2005 Women’s Tennis teams as the only women’s programs to advance to a national semifinal in school history.

Clemson, the top seed in its bracket, takes on another top-seed, Florida State in the semifinal in Cary, N.C. on Friday. The game sets up a rematch of the ACC Championship game, which Florida State won, 2-1.

“Thank you to this incredible Clemson community crowd that came out today,” said Head Coach Eddie Radwanski, who has led his teams to ten consecutive NCAA Tournaments. “I’m so grateful for that. It gave us the energy to finish out this game. At the end of the day, you’re looking at two good teams. Penn State’s a good team. Either team is capable of beting the other, but this is a special group of Tigers here, but they find a way to be resilient to get the result. We talked about – how do we advance ‘what are you willing to do, what are you willing to take to get there to make this happen?’ and they did that. This group has earned the right to go to the College Cup. We are a resilient group – they have a never-say-die attitude. It was something they are capable of doing. Now we’ve checked that box of going to the college cup, and we’re in a role where we can play for a national championship.”

Penn State was able to find the first good scoring chance in the 11th minute, but Mackiewicz made a sliding save on a Payton Linnehan run to keep the game scoreless. Two minutes later, Bornkamp put Clemson’s first shot on goal on a 30-yard strike, but Penn State keeper Katherine Asman fielded the ball cleanly on a short hop to end the threat.

Mackiewicz was tested again in the 18th minute as Linnehan had a free look that she tried to put in the bottom left corner, but the Tiger keeper got enough of a hand on it to push it wide.

Mackiewicz was again true in the 28th minute on a shot by Kaitlyn MacBean from the left side. Two minutes later, the Tigers had a great opportunity as Renee Lyles had a clean look but saw her shot sail just wide of the right post.

Clemson had another chance with a minute to play in the first half when Hal Hershfelt stole the ball deep in Penn State territory with space, but her shot was high. With three seconds left in the half on a late counter, Penn State’s Olivia Damico got a cross right in front of goal, but her touch went wide right, sending the game to half scoreless. Clemson outshot the Nittany Lions 11-8, but Penn State put three on goal.

Lyles was on the attack again in the 55th minute as her screamer to the left side of the goal was turned away by Asman in a diving attempt. Lyles put another one net five minutes later, but again, Asman was there.

Morris gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the 69th minute as the first-team All-ACC selection sent a hard shot to the lower left part of goal. Penn State responded in the 73rd minute as MacBean settled a high clearance outside the 18-yard box and struck a low bouncing ball to the bottom left corner, just out of Mackiewicz’s reach.

“Makenna is deadly on the dribble,” said Radwanski. “I had a good intuition, and it was a great finish. To get goals from our two leaders was special. When you’re in these big games, you just have to find a way to win, and we found a way to win.”

In the 78th minute, Linnehan had a chance, but Mackiwicz came out aggressively to play the ball before she could get a foot on it. Hershfelt found space in the 82nd minute and sent a low liner to the left side, but Asman again made a diving stop, setting up a corner.

In the 84th minute, Harper White played a beautiful lead ball in from near midfield to Conti. Conti got a foot on it, and Asman made the initial save before the rebound was deflected into the net with 6:04 to play in regulation. Penn State nearly tied the game with 45 seconds to play, but MacBean’s offer to the right side struck the post.

Up next, the Tigers will take on fellow ACC member Florida State in the NCAA College Cup Semifinals in Cary, N.C. on Friday, December 1 and will be aired on ESPNU.

For complete coverage of the Clemson women’s soccer team, follow @ClemsonWSoccer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.