Heading into the regular season-ending match with Virginia Tech, the Clemson men’s soccer team was aware of the fact that a win by the Tigers in concert with the possible outcomes of some other Thursday night games around the ACC could have some important repercussions.
Where the Tigers’ fortunes were concerned, it boiled down to finishing in the league standings at 3-2-3 and earning a high enough seed to host a quarterfinal round of the upcoming ACC Tournament.
While the stars were aligning in the night’s other league matches, the Tigers took care of their part with an impressive 3-0 win over the Hokies, and the hoped-for reward was delivered.
By earning the fourth seed in the ACC Tournament - which is the Tigers’ highest seed since 2001 - Clemson (6-8-4 overall) will get to host fifth-seeded Boston College (8-5-3; 3-2-3) in an ACC Tournament quarterfinal at Riggs Field on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.
Clemson and Boston College fought to a scoreless double-overtime draw in Boston on Oct.13, and Tiger coach Mike Noonan feels at this stage that who his team is playing is less important than where.
“Our prospects are that we’re in the tournament, and we’re hosting a game,” said Noonan. “When you get to this time of year, it’s not who you play, because you’re going to play the best. But the advantage is that you’re playing at home.
“So we’ve got an advantage, and we’ve earned it. I’m really proud of the ACC because they’ve changed the way that they’re doing the tournament to reward teams that have done well through the course of the year, and so that their fans can appreciate tournament soccer. Riggs Field has got some history to it when it comes to tournament soccer, and now we’re going to get an ACC Tournament game.”
As for the pairings in the remainder of the tournament field, top-seeded Maryland will face ninth-seeded Virginia Tech, which won its first-round game over eighth-seeded N.C. State 3-2 Monday night. In the other matches, 2nd-seeded North Carolina (14-2-1; 6-1-1) will host 7th-seeded Duke (7-7-1; 3-4-1), and 3rd-seeded Wake Forest (11-3-4; 4-1-3) will host 6th-seeded Virginia (9-6-2; 3-4-1).
The winners of the quarterfinal matches will advance to the semifinals, which will be staged on Friday, Nov.9, at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, MD. Those matches are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and the winners will play for the ACC Championship at noon on Sunday, Nov.11. The championship game will be televised by ESPNU, and the semifinals can be followed on ESPN3.
With so much on the line for his rebuilding program, Noonan felt that his team prepared itself well for Virginia Tech, and that it didn’t let itself be distracted by the game’s heightened implications.
“You manage emotion,” said Noonan. “As (freshman midfielder) Paul Clowes phrased it, the pressure isn’t in the outcome, it’s in the performance. The pressure for the team in the Virginia Tech match was to come out and have a good performance, and that’s all we focused on. We didn’t want to know the scores in the other games. We didn’t focus on where we were going to finish in the conference, and we weren’t going to focus on whether we were going to host a game or whether we were not going to host a game.
“I asked them if they had the courage to walk out with that weight of owning their performance. That’s all they focused on, and that’s why they were calm. They knew what they had to do, they were prepared, and they went out and did it.”
Tickets for the Clemson-BC match are priced at $8 for adults and $5 for students. Students, faculty and staff from Clemson and any other ACC school will be admitted free by showing a valid university I.D.