Clemson’s season ends with loss to Texas in PK’s
DURHAM, N.C. – In a game in which the Clemson women’s soccer team was dominant on offense, it was a heartbreaking round of penalty kicks that decided the NCAA Second Round match in Durham, N.C., as Texas advanced 6-5. The teams were tied 1-1 at the end of 110 minutes of action, in a match in which the Tigers outshot the Longhorns 20-7 and hit the post twice. Clemson concludes the season at 10-5-4, while Texas, a No. 4 national seed in the tournament and the 18th-ranked team in the nation, is 14-3-3 and now heads to the NCAA Sweet 16 on Sunday.
The Tigers’ best chance in the first half came in the 43rd minute, as Miranda Weslake sent a cross in from the left side that found Jenna Polonsky in front of the goal. Polonsky tapped the ball out to Mackenzie Smith, who launched a shot from eight yards that hit the post.
Clemson started the second half looking strong offensively, with several good scoring opportunities in the first 15 minutes, but could not find a way to capitalize. In the 61st minute, the Longhorns put the game’s first goal on the board as Cyera Hintzen got behind the Tiger defense and chipped a shot over Sandy MacIver’s head to take a 1-0 lead.
For the second straight match, the Tigers only looked stronger after going down a goal, putting even more offensive pressure on the Longhorns. They took 10 shots in the second half, compared to Texas’s five, and finally got the equalizer with 3:46 remaining. Mariana Speckmaier sent a beautiful pass into the box, finding the foot of Patrice DiPasquale, who scored into the right side of the net for her second goal of the season to send the game to overtime.
The Tigers continued to be dangerous in the two 10-minute overtime periods, taking seven shots and one on goal, compared to the Longhorns’ one shot with zero on goal, but the score remained tied at 1-1 and the game headed to penalty kicks.
Each team had one miss through the first five rounds of penalty kicks, resulting in a 4-4 score. Both teams were successful in the sixth round, but in the seventh round, Texas made and the Tigers’ shot was saved, and the Longhorns advanced 6-5 in penalty kicks.
It was a very solid season for Head Coach Eddie Radwanski’s young Tiger team. After losing 12 letterwinners and nine starters from the 2016 team that reached the NCAA Sweet 16 a year ago, the squad of 17 underclassmen (nine freshmen and eight sophomores) picked up 10 wins and played some of its best soccer in the NCAA Tournament.
Graduate Jenna Polonsky and seniors Jeni Erickson and Shannon Horgan concluded their Clemson careers with four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. It is the first senior class that has accomplished that feat since the seniors on the 2012 Tiger team.
Clemson Athletics contributed to the writing of this article.