Virginia men’s soccer traveled to No. 18 Clemson Saturday night in a pivotal ACC matchup with just a few games remaining in the regular season. The Cavaliers (8-4-1, 4-1-1 ACC) were able to beat the Tigers (8-4-1, 2-3-1 ACC) by a score of 2-1 as Virginia remains just one point behind Duke for the lead in the Coastal division.
The first 10 minutes saw Clemson dominate possession in the Cavalier half. A couple of early chances for the Tigers came off of a free kick and a cross into the box, but both opportunities were calmly taken care of by junior goalkeeper Holden Brown.
More of the same continued with Virginia having zero shots until the 20th minute, when the Cavaliers won a corner and senior defender Andreas Ueland got his head on the ball, which freshman goalkeeper Joseph Andema grabbed relatively easily. However, the tide began to turn and Virginia slowly gained more control in the offensive third.
Another good chance for Virginia came a couple minutes later, as a ball was crossed in. After bouncing around in the box, junior forward Leo Afonso chested the ball down to junior midfielder Daniel Mangarov who hit the bouncing ball on the half volley. His shot went just wide of the right corner, but the Cavalier pressure continued to ramp up.
As the first half came to a close, Clemson’s transition offense picked up and breakaway chances were aplenty. Ueland and graduate student defender Moritz Kappelsberger did well to shut down many Clemson chances to keep the game tied.
Both defenses stood tall until Virginia broke the deadlock in the 37th minute. The Clemson defense was trying to find an outlet in the midfield when an errant pass was stolen by freshman midfielder Albin Gashi. Gashi drove up the middle of the field and slid the ball to a darting Afonso around the top of the box. Afonso ripped a shot which was saved by Andema, but the rebound fell right to junior forward Kome Ubogu who tapped it in from point-blank range.
Virginia had a couple more great opportunities as the first half came to a close and seemed in strong control of the game with a 1-0 lead and the offense finally operating at a high level.
The energy that the Cavaliers showed in the final 10 minutes of the first half carried over into the start of the second half as Virginia had strong possession in the Clemson half.
For the Cavaliers, a near highlight-reel play came in the 52nd minute. Afonso got the ball on the left side of the Clemson box. After nutmegging a defender, he unleashed a shot with his right foot as he was falling to the ground. The ball rattled off of the crossbar and back into play but was cleared out by the Tigers.
Clemson tied the game at 1-1 in the 68th minute. After a foul committed by Wiese near the left corner of the field, senior midfielder Alvaro Gomez sent in an inswinging ball off of the free kick for the Tigers. The ball found senior forward Mohamed Seye perfectly and he headed the ball into the left corner cleanly past Brown, who had no chance to react.
While the momentum had swung back in favor of the Tigers, Virginia was not to be denied three points and the win on the road.
In the 79th minute, Wiese switched the field to the left side and found freshman forward Triton Beauvois in stride. Beauvois cut back, beating a defender before slotting the ball into the near post past Andema.
The final 10 minutes had its share of drama as the Tigers fiercely tried to tie the game. However, in the 83rd minute, physical play led to fouls on both teams. Clemson junior defender Hamady Diop was fouled, but in the heat of the moment he grabbed the throat of senior midfielder Jeremy Verley and shoved him to the ground. While Verley was given a yellow card, Diop was awarded a red card and sent off, leaving Clemson with 10 men with seven minutes remaining.
A few more chances came for the Tigers but they could not equalize and Virginia took the win. Ubogu’s goal gives him a team-high six on the season, all coming off the bench. Meanwhile, Beauvois’s game-winning goal is his second goal of the season.
With the win, the Cavaliers improve to 3-0 in true road games. Even more impressively, each of their away wins have been over ranked ACC opponents. In addition to the win on Saturday, Virginia has defeated then-No.3 Syracuse and then-No.10 Pittsburgh.
The Cavaliers have three regular season games remaining, which include home contests against Hofstra and Wake Forest and the regular season finale on the road against North Carolina.
Virginia will host Hofstra on Tuesday in Klockner Stadium at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ACC Network and gives the Cavaliers a break from ACC play before they host Wake Forest Saturday night.