Photo: Compliments of Denver Men’s Soccer Twitter. Head Coach Jamie Franks greets his team on the pitch following the win in Clemson, South Carolina to advance to The College Cup in Houston.
As the 0-0 game wore on, it was clear that the first goal would likely be the only goal. As spectators in Clemson, South Carolina prepared for OT, Alex Underwood had other plans. Underwood hoisted a kick toward the Clemson keeper, Ximo Miralles. In a flash, Denver’s big 6’2″ defender Kortne Ford cut from the top of the box, beat the keeper’s fingertips to the ball and headed it into the goal in the 89th minute to earn the dramatic win.
The first half was relatively even with a slight advantage in possession to Clemson. However, Blake Elder had the best scoring opportunity at 44:30 of the first half crossing the box on the dribble through Clemson defenders – but his strike went into the chest of Clemson goalie Ximo Miralles. Both teams finished with 1 SOG . In total, 7 shots from Clemson and 3 shots by Denver.
Elder created another early scoring opportunity at the beginning of the second half @ 46:17. Still the teams kept trading punches. Both teams earned yellow cards, DU’s Graham Smith at 67:32 and Clemson’s Oliver Shannon at 76:41. Then, Andre Shinyashiki had two header attempts that went high as Denver started to up the pressure in the games 83rd and 85th minute. Still, the game had the feel of a draw as the clock wound down. Underwood and Ford would have none of it. A full house at Historic Riggs Field went silent with the sudden elimination of the favored Tigers who had only lost one game all year at their home field.
In the tight match, each team finished with 2 shots on goal. Clemson led in total shots 11-8 but the field tilted the Pioneer way in the second half.
Following the match, head coach Jamie Franks made it clear that he is not satisfied to make the College Cup semifinals – he and his squad “believe we can win the Cup”.
The answer to an earlier LetsGoDU article, Can DU Men’s Soccer Really Win a National Title? was emphatically answered tonight – Hell yes!