#3 Tigers Defeat Providence Advances To NCAA Semifinals

Robinson Bookends Tigers’ Round of Sixteen Match. Press Release Courtesy Clemson Athletics

Clemson, S.C. – Junior Robbie Robinson netted a penalty kick in the 105th minute to send 2nd-seeded Clemson past Providence, 2-1, in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Round of 16. The Tigers will host the quarterfinal match against either Stanford or Virginia Tech on Friday at 6 p.m at Historic Riggs Field. Robinson’s goals came in the 9th and 105th minutes, respectively. Clemson improved to 18-2-1 on the year, while the Friars dropped to 16-7.

Kimarni Smith drew the penalty kick after being taken down in the box. With possession, Smith cut back into the box from the left side. 

“I was very proud of our team,” said Head Coach Mike Noonan, who leads his third Clemson team to an NCAA tournament quarterfinal.  “It was surviving and advancing. I want to give credit to Providence, they are a very strong team and a very good team, they gave us all we could handle tonight. Once again, I think that the better team won.” 

Clemson advances to the NCAA quarterfinal for the 15th time in program history and the first time since 2016. It is the second consecutive match that the Tigers have advanced in the NCAA tournament with a golden goal in overtime. 

Clemson’s 18 wins are the most since the 2001 team had 18, a team that also reached the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tigers also moved to 3-1-1 in overtime matches, the most wins in extra time since 2015 and timed for the second-most in program history. 

“It comes down to belief. I think in sports a lot of times the margins come down to whether you believe in yourself and in each other and I definitely think we have reason to believe in one another. I think that was the separator, ” said Head Coach Mike Noonan on playing back-to-back overtime matches. 

With two goals tonight, Robinson sits in first place in the nation for total points with 45. His 18 goals and 45 points are the most goals and points scored by a Clemson player since Dimelon Westfield scored 20 goals and 45 points in 2002. George Marks recorded four saves on the night. 

The Tigers struck first in the contest, as Robinson netted his 17th goal of the season in the ninth minute. Robinson received the ball just past mid-field, beat his defender in a foot race, made a brilliant move to beat another defender outside of the 18-yard box, and slotted the ball past a diving Providence keeper. 

The Friars would answer in the 45th minute of the first half, leveling the match at a goal apiece off a counter-attack after back-to-back corners from the Tigers. Providence’s Tiago Mendoca snuck a ball past an out-reached George Marks hand to tie the match with eight seconds left in the opening half. It was only the sixth goal the Tiger defense has allowed in the first half of this season. 

The second half saw no scoring as the Tigers out-shot the Friar, 7-5. Marks, Clemson’s goal-keeper, made a phenomenal save in the 83rd minute, getting just enough of the ball to send it over the crossbar for a Providence corner kick. The Tigers would head to its fifth overtime game of the season.

The teams would battle back-and-forth in the first overtime period with Clemson out-shooting the Friars 3-2, but no one finding the back of the net. The second overtime began with the teams dueling in the middle third of the field. Smith was fouled inside the box in the 103rd minute and Robbie Robinson would sink the penalty kick to send the Tigers to the quarterfinals.

Clemson will square off with the winner of Stanford/Virginia Tech in the NCAA quarterfinal match at Historic Riggs Field at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6th. 

Post-game quotes:

Head Coach Mike Noonan on the match…

“I was very proud of our team. It was surviving and advancing. I want to give credit to Providence, they are very strong and a very good team, they gave us all we could handle tonight. Once again, I think that the better team won.”

Noonan on playing in back-to-back overtime matches…

“It comes down to belief. I think in sports, a lot of times the margins come down to whether you believe in yourself and in each other and I definitely think we have reason to believe in one another. I think that was the separator tonight. “

Robbie Robinson on his game-winning penalty kick…

“I just stepped up there and had confidence in myself because we practice them every day in training. I didn’t think that much about it. I just went up, took it and am happy that it went it.”

Malick Mbaye on returning to the Tigers’ lineup…

“I feel like, for me, playing with the guys tonight was beautiful. All that we ask of each other is to do our best on the field. It doesn’t matter what class you are or anything like that, we just ask that you do your job.”

Photos courtesy of Melina Alberti and David Platt, both with Clemson Athletics.

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