Clemson, SC -- Cesar Cuellar scored on a bicycle kick from 15 yards in front
of the goal with 3:42 left in the first overtime, bringing Connecticut to a
come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Clemson in the second round of the NCAA
men's soccer tournament at Riggs Field at Clemson, SC.
Clemson held a 1-0 lead with 24:46 left in the match when the
Tigers Oskar Bringsved was called for his second yellow card of the game.
That meant an ejection and the Tigers were forced to play with just 10 men
the remainder of the game.
Clemson's defense was outstanding over the next 20 minutes, holding
the Huskies out of the scoring column. But, at the 86:26 mark, Donny Mark
scored just his second goal of the seaason for the Huskies. The senior
from Minnesota took a shot from 22 yards out straight in front of the goal.
The ball was deflected by Clemson goal keeper Doug Warren, but rolled into
the left corner of the Clemson goal to tie the score. Chris Gbandi was
credited with an assist on the play.
The contest went into overtime where Cuellar made the game winner.
He beat Clemson goal keeper Doug Warren, who was outstanding all day. He
had 10 saves, a season high and was a reason the game went into overtime
even though Clemson played the last 25 minutes of regulation down a man.
This was the sixth all-time meeting between Clemson and UCONN, two
soccer powers who both claimed National Championships in the sport in the
1980s. Clemson won the crown in 1984 and 1987, while UCONN won the title
in 1981. It was the first meeting in NCAA play however.
The two teams met in an exhibition game at UCONN on August 26th, a
3-0 UCONN win.
Clemson took a 1-0 lead just 8:59 into the match when Mark Lisi
scored his 15th goal of the season. Lisi took a pass from Pablo Webster
inside the goal keeper box and beat UCONN goal keeper Bryheem Hancock to
the short side, the left side of the goal with a ground ball. It was just
the 13th goal allowed by Hancock all season.
Lisi, a national player of the year candidate, has now scored at
least one goal in 11 of the last 15 games and has all 15 of his goals this
year during that time. The first-team All-ACC player missed the first
three games of the year due to injury. Webster's assist was his 13th of
the season, best on the Clemson team. Webster now has seven assists in his
last five games.
UCONN had its chances in the first half. They actually outshot
Clemson 8-7 in the first 45 minutes of play. Their best chance came with
31:07 left in the first half. Cesar Cuellar , a freshman from Bolivia and
the leading scorer for Ray Reid's Huskie team, let go with a rifle shot
from 20 yards out that hit the cross bar, shaking the entire goal and
drawing a reaction from the crowd. The ball bounced back in play where
Connecticut had another chance with 25:40 left in the half when
Edwin Rivera came in strong from the right side and his left footed shot
from the left side was tipped away by Clemson goal keeper Doug Warren.
1. CLEMSON-Mark Lisi (Pablo Webster), 8:59
2. UCONN-Donny Mark (Chris Gbandi), 86:26
3. UCONN-Cesar Cuellar (unassisted), 101:18
Shots: Clemson 10, UCONN 26
Corner Kicks: Clemson 5, UCONN 7
Saves: Warren (CU) 11, Hancock (UCONN) 1
Fouls: Clemson 20, UCONN 14
Offsides: Clemson 4, UCONN 0
Clemson Head Coach Trevor Adair
"It is hard to play with 10 men. I give credit to our team in
trying to hold off a fine UCONN team. I have an empty feeling in my
stomach for our seniors, who were committed to winning a national
championship. We played very well in the first half. UCONN is a good
team with outstanding players. I am proud of my team.
"In any soccer match it is unfortunate that a player is taken out
and one team has to play with 10 men.
"I was blocked out and really didn't see the final goal. It was a
bicycle kick. Cuellar is a good player. We tried to put an extra player
on him. Tactically we did a good job, we just couldn't hang on a few more
minutes. Doug got a hand on it, but it went into the goal.
"This senior class is the best senior class I have ever had. A lot
of these guys will be playing professionally. They committed themselves to
our program, to Clemson soccer. As a number-two seed, we felt we had a
chance to win it all, but we knew this would be a difficult game. Our
bracket was very tough. This game was like a quarterfinal game."
"The ball flipped up in the air after Pablo sent the ball in. I
was able to score. UCONN is a great team. This is tough for the seniors.
We put so much effort into this season. To come up short is difficult, you
don't want it to end. I am proud of everyone who put on a jersey this year
and for our coaching staff.
"We needed to keep the ball more when we were down a man. It is
difficult to do.
"I thought we were in good shape at the half with a 1-0 lead. We
had accomplished what we wanted. We needed to score more goals. But, when
you get down a man it is hard to get an attack going. I still thought we
could hold on and we almost did. We gave up two unfortunate goals when
we were down a man. "
UCONN Head Coach Ray Reid
"This was a tough game. Clemson is a very good team, well coached.
It is not the same team we played in the preseason. Mark Lisi is one of
the best players in college soccer.
"We took this as a challenge, going on the road. It was a tough
game and our team did not crack. We kept our composure. Donny Mark's
was a great goal and of course Cuellar's goal was outstanding.
"It was a great college soccer game. Clemson was the top seed in
this part of the bracket and it was deserved.
"With a second yellow the player leaves the game. That was the
call and you play on.
"We got great play from our bench. That is one of our strengths,
depth. That made a difference in the game, it gave us a thrust today.
"At halftime we were down and I told the team to keep going. Get a
goal and tie it up. I told them to keep their head up. Often the team
down a man gets motivated. It takes a lot of energy out of you when you
are a man down. We just kept going.
"Donny Mark is a very good player. He gives us a different look at