Men’s soccer fell to No.1 Clemson in a 2-1 game that makes the Eagles arguably the best .500 team in the country. Under a harvest moon, the game reached fever pitch with BC going down a man in the 63rd minute, falling into a 2-0 hole in the 68th but clawing their way back to a breathless final onslaught in the waning seconds of the half that fell just short in the attempt to tie the game.
Tim Ströbeck and Adam Lundegard scored for Clemson, while Stefan Sigurdarson scored for the Eagles, tallying his sixth of the year in the 70th minute to give the Eagles hope.
The game-winning Lundegard goal came in the 68th minute, off a cross from Ousmane Sylla through traffic. Having found space at the top of the box on the right side, Sylla lofted the ball towards the back post, finding the unmarked Lundegard, who poked the ball home seconds before a lunging Brennan Klein could shut down the post. The goal made it 2-0 with twenty minutes to play and Clemson firing on all cylinders while being up a man.
The goal was partly the result of a CJ Williams ejection in the 63rd minute due to a tackle from behind on a Clemson player in the midfield. Although BC argued strenuously against the call, the tackle was a frustration foul, with Williams coming in late and from behind the player, leaving the referee little choice in what had already been a chippy game. With the red card, the freshman defender will miss the next game as well, serving his suspension. Five minutes after the red card, Clemson scored their second goal, digging the hole deeper for the Eagles.
Luckily, when the chips are down, the Eagles can usually be counted on to play their best soccer, and once again the team mounted an incredible final effort to push Clemson in the final twenty minutes.
Sigurdarson answered two minutes after the Lundegard goal, blowing past the Clemson defense to score his sixth goal in five games and give the Eagles a chance at the comeback with twenty minutes to go in the second. Jonathon Murphy, playing as a floating defender, served a ball over the top of the Clemson backline that Sigurdarson ran onto, taking a touch to slow the ball down and allow Clemson defender Titus Sandy Jr. to blow past him, before smashing the ball into the back of the net with his right foot to make the score 2-1 and give the Eagles a chance.
The first goal came in the 34th minute, off an unlucky play where BC keeper Klein slipped while attempting to get rid of the ball near the top of the box. Ströbeck capitalized, slotting the loose ball into the side netting and giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Clemson played just like the number one team in the country and defending National Champions that they are, but still received some help from lucky bounces and inconsistent refereeing. The biggest controversy of the game came in the final five minutes, where the Eagles looked to have a chance at tying it up on what appeared to be a Clemson handball in the box, though the referee did not blow his whistle. Seconds later on the ensuing corner, Adrian Zenko would go down on the edge of the box due to contact and again the referee did not blow the whistle.
Upon further review, the ball did not go off the hand of the Clemson defender, but the “missed” call highlighted the double standard, with BC players repeatedly being whistled for stepping into Clemson players, tugging jerseys, or standing their ground. On the other side, players like Sigurdarson and Augustine Boadi had to fight through two or three Clemson players tripping and tugging at them to get the referee to whistle for a foul. On the whole, there were eight cards on the night, with BC receiving three yellow and the Williams red card.
The loss to Clemson won’t feel good for any of the players on the field, but the heart shown by players like Boadi, Amos Shapiro-Thompson, Murphy, and Sigurdarson show just how far this team can go if they continue to produce performances like this one—only one other team has scored on Clemson this season and none have done it while down a man. Boadi in particular left his heart on the field, running himself ragged to chase down what seemed like impossible balls, only to come away with them and streak down the wing to create chances.
BC took it to the reigning champs, and while the result wasn’t the outcome the team wanted, it demonstrated that they can go toe to toe with the best in the country and come away knowing a tie was well within their grasp. If the Eagles can keep that mentality going forward, then no team should feel comfortable seeing BC as their next opponent.
The Eagles (2-2-1) have another ranked ACC matchup slated for September 16th, against No.10 Louisville (3-2) at 7pm, home at Newton.
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