BREAKING

Barber nets golden goal as No. 2 Clemson advances


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Tigers celebrate the game-winner. (Photo: David Platt - Clemson Athletics)
Tigers celebrate the game-winner. (Photo: David Platt - Clemson Athletics)

By Kaleigh Fowler

CLEMSON - Number 2 ranked Clemson men’s soccer opened their NCAA tournament last night after earning a first-round bye. Clemson’s match was against the Charlotte College 49ers. Charlotte earned a second-round game by defeating Mercer University 3-1 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

From the first whistle, Clemson started strong in their first match of the tournament. Pushing forward relentlessly, though shy of a little disciple, Clemson had 3 goals disallowed when the sideline official spotted offsides offenses. Clemson dominated the run of play tallying 9 shots, 6 on goal in the first half, compared to Charlotte’s 2 shots, 1 on goal. After three times believing they had the lead, Clemson finished the half level at 0-0.

The second half started in a similar fashion with Clemson controlling the run of play. Sixteen minutes into the second period, the Tigers capitalized on their momentum. In the 53rd minute, Robbie Robinson received the ball in the center of the field, 30 yards from goal on a clever through ball from Alvaro Gomez. Robinson made a nice turn, beat two defenders, leaving the first on the ground, and drilled a right-footed shot into the upper 90. The 49er keeper, Elliot Panicco, managed to get a touch on the shot, but the ball blasted into the back of the net. The goal was Robinson’s team-leading 16th of the season.

Despite continuing to control the run of play, Clemson’s lead lasted only 20 minutes. Charlotte evened the match in the 73rd minute off a long throw-in. The throw-in from near the end line was sent into the box by 49er Delasi Batse. Both Charlotte and Clemson players filled the box. Through the mess of players in the box, the ball went untouched to Preston Popp who tapped it home for the game-tying goal.

In the second half, Clemson again dominated the statistics out shooting Charlotte 9 to 3, however, the game was 1-1 at the end of regulation. The Tigers were 1-1-1 in overtime coming into tonight’s game. Overtime consists of two 10-minute periods with the Golden Goal rule in effect. If a goal is scored, the game ends, and the scoring team wins.

Charlotte pressed early and got off the first shot in overtime. However, it was sophomore Grayson Barber in the 4th minute of overtime who took the last shot of the game and sealed the win for the Tigers. Stirling Russel drilled a ground ball across the frame from near the end line on the right side. A 49er got a foot on the cross, but his attempted clear stayed on the ground. The deflected ball rolled to Barber just inside the penalty box. Barber one touched the rebound slotting it inside the far post to send the Tigers to the next round of the NCAA tournament.

Head coach Mike Noonan was very pleased with his team’s overall play and their response after Charlotte scored to tie the game. “Charlotte has got a very, very good team,” Noonan said. “On this day, the right team and better team won.”

The Tigers will now wait to find out when they will host the Providence Friars in Sweet-Sixteen action. Tickets for the match will be available at ClemsonTigers.com and will remain at the same price as Sunday's match, $8 for adults and $3 for those 18 and under.

Head Coach Mike Noonan on the match...

"Obviously, we are very happy with how the game ended. I thought the team played very well. I was really happy with the response the team had after they (Charlotte) scored. I was really proud of how the team played overall. They have a very, very good team, but I think on the day, the right team, and the better team won."

Grayson Barber on the game-winning goal...

"It's a great feeling to get the game-winning goal. We deserved it earlier in the game, but to be able to put it in the back of the net and send us to the next round is a great feeling."

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