CHAPEL HILL, NC—Ara Amirkhanian’s goal early in the first overtime period gave Clemson a 2-1 upset victory over #6 North Carolina in a men’s Atlantic Coast Conference soccer match at Chapel Hill, NC Tuesday night.
Clemson, ranked 17th nationally, is now 8-2-1 overall and 3-2-1 in the ACC. North Carolina is now 3-2-5 overall, and 0-1-5 in the ACC. The Tar Heels have played to five ties in ACC action prior to tonight’s match.
Clemson scored first in the second minute of play. On a give and go from McNamara to Manolo Sanchez inside the box, the North Carolina defender Jonathan Campbell committed a handball violation and the Tigers were awarded the penalty kick opportunity.
McNamara attempted the penalty kick, but the shot was saved by North Carolina’s goalkeeper Brendan Moore. However, Moore was unable to control the save and McNamara was there to rifle home the rebound for his sixth goal of the season.
North Carolina scored the equalizer in the 68th minute. Verneri Valimaa scored his first goal of the season with assists by Josh Rice and Omar Holness. From the right, Holness passed the ball to Rice who dribbled to the top of the box. Rice crossed the ball to Valimaa. He sent a 12-yard shot that was deflected by a Clemson defender into the goal to tie the score at 1-1.
Amirkhanian, a Clemson, SC native, scored at the 91:38 mark. Clemson’s goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell punted the ball to the Tigers’ freshman Austen Burnikel. Burnikel sent a cross to the left. Amirkhanian ran onto the pass and buried a shot into the netting to give the Tigers the 2-1 victory. This was his sixth goal of the year. The Tigers’ goalkeeper who finished with two saves on the night was credited with an assist as was Burnikel.
“That was a big win for us, I am so happy for the team,” said Clemson Head Coach Mike Noonan. “On the last goal Burnikel played a great ball to Amirkhanian who scored the game winner for us. Kyle Fisher played great in defense, McNamara was his usual self, and Alexandre Rome’o Happi also had a good game. I was very proud of the entire team.
“I thought we had a great crowd last Saturday at the Notre Dame match,” said Noonan. “The crowd stuck with us and they were enthusiastic and I want to thank the Clemson fans for that. We carried that enthusiasm on the road with us, and that is so important when you go on the road in the ACC. We must now move on and prepare for a tough Wake Forest team.”
Clemson will play at 10th-ranked Wake Forest Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in Winston-Salem, NC.
Clemson—Thomas McNamara (Unassisted) 1:04
North Carolina—Verneri Valimaa (Josh Rice, Omar Holness) 67:37
Clemson—Ara Amirkhanian (Austen Burnikel, Andrew Tarbell) 91:38
Shots: Clemson 14, North Carolina 11
Corner Kicks: Clemson 4, North Carolina 3
Saves: Andrew Tarbell (CU) 2, Brendan Moore (NC) 7
Fouls: Clemson 14, North Carolina 4