Alvarado’s Massive Effort Not Enough as Tigers Down Spartans
Clemson, S.C. – Danny Alvarado tied a single-season Division I-era school record with 12 saves, but his herculean effort was not enough as Clemson scored a 1-0 victory over USC Upstate in the season opener for both teams Friday night at historic Riggs Field.
Upstate falls to 0-1 on the season and will travel to Asheville, N.C., Monday afternoon in its next match. Clemson improves to 1-0 with the win.
"That's Division I soccer for you," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "I thought it was an even match. They only had two or three really good chances and Dani was brilliant. I told our guys what was important was that their keeper had to make a few great saves to keep us scoreless. Sometimes it's a 10 second span that causes you to win or lose and unfortunately for us, we came out on the short end. Clemson is a big-time program and we should be happy with our effort. I told our guys…I am really looking forward to this season."
Clemson pushed the pace early in the match, but Upstate withstood the Tiger attack in the first 10 minutes before settling in. However, just as Upstate settled in, Clemson had its best opportunity to crack the scoreboard early on. The Spartans' defense, though, made a couple of big plays to save a pair of goals.
Senior defender John Kadane (Garland, Texas) saved a really good scoring opportunity for Clemson in the 11th-minute. Iain Smith was played a one-touch pass and was open about eight yards out, but Kadane was able to step in and kick the ball away. On the ensuing corner kick, Alvarado (Leander, Texas) came up big with a left-handed save from a shot off the foot of Austin Savage from 12 yards out.
Upstate put a couple of shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, one a header by Dylan Hoop (Hamilton, Ohio) and the other shot by Dave Musambi (Ottawa, Ontario). Both attempts were saved by Clemson keeper Cody Mizell.
Alvarado came up big again in the 23rd-minute when Smith was played a through ball on the right side of the box. He was all alone, but Alvarado came out and made a play on the ball to thwart the attempt.
Musambi put together a solid scoring opportunity in the 30th-minute. He took the ball on the left side of the box and beat to defenders to create space. He fired a shot from 15 yards out that was deflected over the goal by Mizell.
Alvarado came up big again with 9:18 left in the first half, making a diving save to his right to save a shot from Preston Gayton. It was the last good scoring attempt for either team the rest of the half as the teams went into the locker room in a scoreless tie.
Upstate drew even with Clemson in shots during the first half with each team taking six shots. Mizell finished the half with five saves, while Alvarado came up with four.
After the teams felt each other out to start the second half, Clemson put together two shots back-to-back in the seventh-minute. Alvarado came up with a save, while a Tiger header sailed over the bar. Alvarado came up with another key save on a header from Manolo Sanchez in the 59th-minute.
Alvarado came out 12 yards off the line to knock the ball away from TJ Casner who was all alone in the middle of the box, saving another golden scoring opportunity for the Tigers in the 67th-minute. He came up with another diving save two minutes later. Seconds later, Mizell came up with a great save of his own on Musambi's shot from 13 yards out.
Following an Upstate foul deep in Spartan territory, Clemson's Casner curved a shot into the upper right 90 from 24 yards out on the ensuing free kick to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the 76th-minute.
Alvarado again came up big to save a shot in a flurry in front of the goal mouth with just under eight minutes to play, keeping Upstate in the game late. Upstate made a late push approaching three minutes to play, creating two corner kicks after Hoop took a long pass deep into the box. However, the Spartans couldn't put anything away as Clemson maintained its 1-0 lead.
Alvarado finished with 12 saves on the night, eight in the second half to keep Upstate in the game throughout.
"All together it was a good night," said Alvarado. "I think this game shows that we can play with anyone. They are a good team and I am excited for the season. The intensity was so much higher than the preseason games. It was exciting to get out there for a regular season game."