CLEMSON, SC - Freshman TJ Casner scored the game's lone goal with 13:59 left to go in regulation in leading Clemson to a 1-0 victory over USC Upstate in a men's intercollegiate soccer match at Historic Riggs Field at Clemson SC Friday night. It was the season opener for both teams.
After taking only six shots in the first half, Clemson improved offensively and took 12 shots in the second half. For the match, Clemson took 12 shots on goal as USC upstate's goalkeeper Dani Alvarado made 12 saves on the night. Cody Mizell, the Clemson goalkeeper, kept the Spartans scoreless as he made seven saves in his seventh career shutout.
Clemson threatened first with 12 minutes into the match. Austin Savage half-volleyed a shot from top of the box but it was saved by the USC-Upstate goalkeeper Alvarado, who had four saves in the first half.
With16:47 left in the first half, Clemson freshman Preston Gayton sent a shot just wide of the right post. USC Upstate had a near miss with 15:22 left in the half, as the Spartans' Dave Musambi fired a shot from 18 yards out. Clemson's goalkeeper, Cody Mizell made a one-handed save to keep the match scoreless.
In the second half, Clemson came out firing early. In the 53rd minute Clemson took a flurry of shots that threatened the scoreless tie. Ara Amirkhanian took an 18-yard shot that was saved in the center of the goal by Alvarado. The Tigers' Manolo Sanchez took a 12-yard shot that was saved by Alvarado, and the rebound was headed just over the goal by Savage.
In the 59th minute, Sanchez took a shot from six yards out but USC Upstate's Alvarado made another save to preserve the 0-0 deadlock. Clemson's Alex Stockinger was close on his 30-yard shot but is sailed just high of the goal in the 67th minute. The Spartans' Michael Rankin-Byrne took a 20-yard diagonal shot that went just wide of the right post.
Clemson scored at the 76:01 mark. TJ Casner sent a 24-yard direct kick from 24 yards out from the left into the right upper corner of the goal.
"I've been working on free kicks in practice," said Casner. "I hit it in the perfect spot. I hit the ball just like I did in practice. Before I took the kick my roommate, Preston Gayton told me 'this is your ball - your goal, you take the shot.' I did and fortunately it went in the goal.
"I am very happy," said Casner. "This was a great crowd on opening day."
"I thought in the first half, we were a little tentative," said Clemson Head Coach Mike Noonan. "We played on the back of our feet. We were not getting people, nor the ball inside the box. In the second half, we played better. Cody came up with some big saves. As a matter of fact it was a story of the two goalkeepers. Their goalkeeper came up with big saves and kept them in the game. We took 18 shots and 12 of those were saved by the Upstate keeper," said Noonan.
"I think we can learn a great deal about our team from this game," said Noonan. "I was proud that they never gave up and kept the pressure on during the game. I was also pleased with Cody's performance. Paul Clowes was the most efficient performer for us. The freshman class did well for us. I thought Jack Metcalf played well in the midfield.
"We will work hard this weekend and prepare for Davidson," said Noonan.
Clemson will play at Davidson Monday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Tigers' next action.
Clemson 1, USC Upstate 0
Clemson - TJ Casner (Unassisted) 76:01
Shots: Clemson 18, USC Upstate 9
Corner Kicks: Clemson 6, USC Upstate 3
Saves: Cody Mizell (CU) 7, Dani Alvarado (USCU) 12
Fouls: Clemson 7, USC Upstate 9