Men’s soccer travels to Clemson, South Carolina to play the Tigers Friday @ 5:00 PM MT in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Of course you’re wondering, “What do I need to know heading into DU’s biggest match of the year?” We’ve got you covered.
This season, Clemson (13-3-5) has a 6-1-1 record at home and a 9-2-2 record against non-conference opponents. Overall, the team has won 14 ACC championships, 2 NCAA Championships, and has 2 Hermann Trophy winners, Bruce Murray in 1987 and Wojtek Krakowiak in 1998. The ACC has a whopping 5 teams in the RPI top 10 with Clemson clocking in at #2. For comparison, Pioneers are #7. After Maryland lost to Providence in the first round, Clemson is the highest ranked program of the eight remaining in the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers (seems to be a theme this weekend) play at historic Riggs Field, which seats 6,500. It was built in 1915 and was used for football, basketball, and track. In 1980, the stadium was converted to a soccer-only venue. During 13 home games this year they averaged 2,523 fans but everyone expects a full house Friday. The weather is expected to be clear and 61 degrees and school is still in session.
Clemson is coached by Mike Noonan. Since 2013, his record 55-20-16 and have been in every NCAA Tournament since then. Last year was his best year as Clemson lost 4-0 to Stanford in the College Cup Final. Noonan’s squad boasts a large international presence with 11 of his 32 players from Brazil (1), Denmark (2), England (2), Bermuda (1), Costa Rica (2), France (1), Senegal (1), and Spain (1). The Tigers under Noonan employ “relentless Clemson soccer.” Sound familiar?
It will take a great effort Friday night if the Pios are to advance to the College Cup semifinals in Houston. Clemson is one of the best soccer programs in the country, so Denver certainly has their work cut out for them. However, this match certainly has the makings of an instant classic.