CLEMSON, S.C. (Clemson SID) — The No. 4 Clemson men’s soccer team (13-3-2) defeated the No. 1 Pittsburgh Panthers (13-3-0) by a final score of 2-0 on Saturday night at Historic Riggs Field to secure the ACC’s automatic bid into the 2020 NCAA Tournament. Clemson earned its eleventh all-time victory against a top-ranked opponent following tonight’s result, with three coming during the 2020-21 season. Clemson is set to make its 33rd all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and its seventh across the last eight seasons.
“Obviously, this means we get the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and will probably be the No. 1 seed in the tournament, which is valuable,” said Clemson Head Coach Mike Noonan. “But more importantly, we got a win in front of our home fans and closed out the season the right way.”
The opening 15 minutes of action saw the two sides locked in a tight battle as each team looked to assert itself in the match. A bit of brilliance from Quinn McNeill in the 17th minute saw the Greenville native use his left foot to volley the fifth goal of his career into the top left corner of the net and give Clemson an early 1-0 lead. The opportunity was a result of a free kick taken by Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador from 50 yards out and a deflected ball hanging inside the box.
McNeill’s goal proved to be the definitive moment of the match, as the stingy Clemson defense held the top-ranked Panthers at bay for the remainder of the top-5 matchup.
Pittsburgh applied steady pressure throughout the second half and threatened several times to equalize, but a cohesive performance by Clemson’s backline and junior goalkeeper George Marks kept the ball out of the net. With just eight minutes remaining in the match, forward Isaiah Reid received a pass from Mohamed Seye and snuck a left-footed shot inside the near post and under the right hand of Panther goalkeeper Nico Campuzano.
Reid’s insurance goal secured the victory for the Tigers, as the final minutes ticked off the clock with little offense and Clemson cruised to its 33rd NCAA Tournament Appearance. The shutout effort by the Tigers was the fifth in the series, as Clemson has allowed the Panthers to score just three goals across the first seven meetings between the two ACC rivals.
The Clemson men’s soccer program will now look ahead to the 2020 NCAA Tournament and will wait to discover its first opponent during the tournament’s selection show on Monday, April 19 at noon. This year’s selection show will be broadcast live on NCAA.com. The 2020 tournament will feature 36 teams and will take place throughout the state of North Carolina, with the College Cup set to be played at WakeMed Soccer Park from May 14-17.