Clemson defeats Denver, headed to Sweet Sixteen for third season in a row
|Monday, November 22, 2021, 9:31 AM-|
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Oskar Ågren scored the game-winning and only goal of the game in the 108th minute of play on a penalty kick that he drilled into the net to send the Clemson Tigers (14-5-0) to their 27th NCAA Sweet Sixteen and third season in a row. The Tigers’ 1-0 victory over Denver (10-4-5) grants them the right to take on ninth-seeded Kentucky at Historic Riggs Field on Sunday, November 28.
Clemson dominated the possession for most of the match finishing with 10 shots in the first half and nine in the second to outshoot the Pioneers 19-2 in regulation. The Tigers earned 17 corner kicks in the match and allowed zero from Denver.
Clemson outshot Denver 10-2 in the first 45 minutes of play and had several clear-cut chances that came just inches from giving the Tigers the lead. Notably, Isaiah Reid’s rebound shot in only the 4th minute was brilliantly saved to keep the game level, and Charlie Asensio’s left-footed shot in the 30th minute rolled harmlessly outside the frame.
Denver created one dangerous attack that resulted in a deflected shot, but goalkeeper George Marks’s quick reflexes kept the Pioneers from scoring the game’s first goal.
Clemson had four corners to Denver’s none, and three pioneers were issued three yellow card cautions.
After a scoreless second half including many Clemson opportunities, the Tigers and Pioneers headed to the first 10 minute overtime. In the final minute of the first frame, Reid thought to have played a ball into Justin Malou that the Clemson right-back tapped home, but the goal was called back as Reid was deemed offside.
Just as it appeared the game was headed to penalties, Quinn McNeill drew a penalty. Clemson’s lone First-Team All-ACC player calmly grabbed the ball and walked to the spot. Agren, who converted a penalty kick against FIU, struck the ball confidently into the right side of the net. He then sprinted and power-slid to the sideline before getting mobbed by his teammates in jubilation.
Clemson’s last penalty kick winner in the second overtime period came in 2019 off the foot of Robbie Robinson, sending the Tigers into the Elite Eight with a 2-1 victory over Providence.
“I told them before the game that they eat pressure for lunch,” said a smiling Head Coach Mike Noonan. “They like pressure, and sometimes it’s self-induced but they do a great job. In the most pressure-filled moments, they perform.”
Up next, Clemson will host a Round of 16 NCAA Tournament match at Historic Riggs Field on Sunday, November 28 against Kentucky, who defeated Santa Clara on Sunday 2-0 to advance. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m., with broadcast information to be determined.