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NCAA Men’s College Cup: West Virginia can’t solve stingy Clemson; Notre Dame blanks Oregon State for an all-ACC Final

Photo courtesy NCAA

Clemson and Notre Dame prevailed Friday in the semifinals of the 2023 NCAA Men’s College Cup, setting up an all-ACC national championship game on Monday at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.

The No. 9 seed Tigers topped No. 5 seed West Virginia, 1-0, while the No. 2 seed Fighting Irish downed Oregon State, 1-0.

The Mountaineers came up short in their first ever appearance in the College Cup, despite creating numerous chances, and pushing for the equalizer throughout the second half, they could not get one past a stingy Clemson side that has not surrendered a goal in the NCAA Tournament.

The Mountaineers close the year with a 17-3-4 record, including a 9-0-3 mark at home at the Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

The championship game will be contested at 6 p.m. Monday and televised on ESPNU.

The ACC has clinched its 20th national championship in men’s soccer, including its third straight (Clemson 2021, Syracuse 2022).

This will be the third all-ACC NCAA title game in men’s soccer, with the others coming in 2008 (North Carolina-Maryland) and 2013 (Notre Dame-Maryland). Clemson and Notre Dame met in the conference opener on Sept. 9 in South Bend, Indiana, with Notre Dame notching a 3-2 win.

This marks the third straight season and the fourth time in the last five seasons in which an ACC team will play in the national championship game. The men’s soccer national championship will be the ACC’s fourth national title this fall, joining women’s cross country (NC State), field hockey (North Carolina) and women’s soccer (Florida State).

Clemson (14-3-5) used a beautiful give-and-go to score the match’s lone goal in the 37th minute. Shawn Smart sent a short pass ahead to Mohamed Seye, who headed the ball forward and Smart volleyed a screamer just under the crossbar to break the deadlock. The goal was Smart’s second of the season.

The Tigers have not conceded a goal in 360 minutes of NCAA Tournament action.

After a scoreless first half, Notre Dame (13-2-6) broke through in the 51st minute when Wyatt Lewis sent a short ball deep into the box to find an unmarked Eno Nto, who collected the ball and beat the keeper for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.

The Fighting Irish recorded their 12th clean sheet of the season.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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