Second Half Spurt Lifts Clemson WSoc to NCAA First Round Win Over Alabama

CLEMSON, S.C. – Two goals in a five-minute span in the second half gave the Clemson women’s soccer team a 2-1 victory over Alabama in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Championships on Friday night at Historic Riggs Field. The Tigers improve to 10-5-3 with the win, and advance to the NCAA Second Round for the third-straight year.

Clemson dictated play for much of the first half, but was unable to capitalize on its scoring chances, resulting in a 0-0 score at halftime. Just over a minute into the contest, the Tigers earned a corner kick, which was handled by Shannon Horgan, but Sam Staab’s shot was saved by Crimson Tide keeper Kat Stratton. Clemson had two more chances on corner kicks in the first half, but was unable to generate another shot on goal. Jenna Polonsky’s shot with five minutes remaining in the period was blocked by an Alabama defender, and was the Tigers’ final chance of the half.

Both teams came out firing on offense to start the second half, with two shots each in the first seven minutes of the period. The Tigers had two good chances in the 60th minute, as Julie Mackin found Ellen Colborn with a nice pass, Colborn settled the ball and launched a shot that was saved by Stratton. Patrice DiPasquale came up with the rebound, but her shot missed wide.

Alabama scored the game’s first goal at the 67-minute mark, as a long pass by Emma Welch took an odd bounce over the head of Clemson keeper Sandy MacIver, and Casey Wertz was there to finish from three-yards out. The Tigers did not panic with the one-goal deficit, and in fact, just four minutes later, Mariana Speckmaier netted the equalizer on a beautiful 10-yard shot that was assisted by Polonsky. Five minutes after that, Clemson took a 2-1 lead after a Staab corner kick was perfectly placed at the far post for Dani Antieau to head in off the Alabama keeper from close range.

Clemson finished the match with 11 shots to the Crimson Tides’ six and six corner kicks to Alabama’s one. Speckmaier’s goal was her seventh of the season, and the 2017 ACC All-Freshman team selection now has 16 points. Antieau’s gamewinner was her second goal of the year. MacIver posted four saves and picked up the win in 90 minutes in net for the Tigers.

The Tigers advance to the NCAA Second Round to face Texas, a 3-0 winner over North Texas in the first round. The location and date of the match is to be determined, and will be finalized after the first-round match between Duke and UNC Greensboro, to be played on Nov. 11 in Durham, N.C.