Coastal Carolina wasn’t able to knock off one of the nation’s top five teams Tuesday night, but the men’s soccer team managed to keep building momentum by extending its unbeaten streak to four games.
The Chanticleers played Clemson to a scoreless tie at the CCU Soccer Stadium to move their record to 4-4-2. The Tigers are ranked fifth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll.
“We could have gotten at least a goal out of the game here tonight, and maybe a little bit more in some other areas,” CCU coach Shaun Docking said. “I thought we did enough to win the game tonight. I’m pleased with the guys, a really good effort. They played well tonight, just couldn’t quite get that goal at the end. So it’s disappointing. It’s a game we should have won.”
Clemson is now 7-1-2, including 2-1-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers haven’t lost in six games, with four wins and two ties, and have recorded three consecutive shutouts.
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“We’ve had a good season to date,” Clemson coach Mike Noonan said. “The positives are it’s the third straight clean slate we’ve kept. … Over the course of the last five or six games we haven’t lost. But the performance has to get better.
“It was a sleepy road performance. I think both teams deserved a point at the end of the game. This is not what we were looking for in terms of our performance for sure.”
The even result was reflected in the statistics as Coastal finished with a slim 10-9 advantage in overall shots, and each side managed to put five attempts on goal.
But Clemson had the two best scoring opportunities, only to be thwarted by Coastal junior keeper Braulio Linares-Ortiz.
Clemson’s Thales Moreno had a penalty kick in the first half following a hand ball by Coastal and kicked it low and down the middle, where a diving Linares-Ortiz deflected the ball away with his feet.
In overtime, Linares-Ortiz made a brilliant save off a corner kick, as he reached to his left to deflect a header just over the crossbar.
“On the penalty, the kid made a great save. In overtime, the kid made a great save,” Noonan said. “They had opportunities as well.”
CCU had a pair of shots on goal in the final 20 minutes of regulation, as Wes White headed a loose ball and Martin Melchor hit a line drive right into the chest of Clemson keeper Ximo Miralles.
With a young team that lost the top four point producers from a year ago, Coastal took its lumps early this season.
The Chants, who reached the second round of the NCAA playoffs last year, started the season 1-4-1 with two of those losses to ranked teams in No. 17 Virginia and No. 14 Charlotte. The only win in the first six games was a 1-0 decision at home over South Carolina.
But CCU entered Tuesday’s tilt on a three-game winning streak with wins over Radford, College of Charleston and Old Dominion, scoring at least two goals in each game after scoring just three goals combined in its first six games.
“We’ve been playing better, so I’m pleased with the guys,” Docking said. “I think we looked sharper tonight and I’m pleased with our fitness levels tonight. I thought we came on strong in the second half and gave them a lot to handle. I think we’re getting better, coming together a bit more as a team and connecting a little bit better.”
The Chants are scheduled to begin their first season in the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday at Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., and play five of its final six games against conference opponents. Hartwick is the two-time defending champion of the six-team league.
“The Hartwick game is going to be a very difficult game, they’re really good,” Docking said. “It’s nice to be in a different conference. We’ve only got five other teams, so fewer teams, which is good. We’re excited. We’ll see what happens.”
Clemson leads the overall series against Coastal Carolina 9-2-2, with a 1-1 tie coming last year.
Regarding continuing the series, Noonan said, “It all depends. I’ve got a great relationship with Shaun, and he’s run a fine, fine program for a long time. So we’ll continue to talk and hopefully we’ll see each other. I suspect if we don’t see them in the regular season we’ll see them in the postseason.”