FINAL: Wake Forest 6-1 Clemson
What a statement win on the road for Wake Forest. A 6-1 win on the road against a team that was No. 1 in the country until this week (and the defending national champions, at that). In the 53rd edition of this conference matchup, six goals are the most the Deacons have ever scored against Clemson. The five-goal margin of victory is tied for the largest in series history with a 5-0 Wake Forest win in 2008.
The first half seemed mostly even, with Wake Forest leading by two thanks to good finishes and goalkeeper play. In the second half, the Deacons sat back, absorbed Clemson's pressure, and became ruthless on the counterattack. It was a poor day at the office for the Clemson defense, but especially for keeper Trevor Manion, who only managed to make one save. The Deacons finished with six different goal scorers, four of which came off the bench as the starters were rested with the result out of question.
Trace Alphin and the Wake defense deserve praise as well. As Clemson's attack became more desperate, the backline held firm, defending 14 corner kicks (seven in each half) and 19 shots. Alphin was nearly perfect, if not for a final-minute foul in the area and the resulting penalty kick.
Here are the stats at full-time:
A fourth goal for Wake Forest
GOAL 63': Wake Forest 4-0 Clemson. An insurance goal for the Deacons, not that they needed it with their defensive effort tonight. Jahlane Forbes pounces on a loose ball and drives down the left flank, cutting it back along the ground for Chase Oliver, a team-leading fifth assist for Forbes from left-back. The Deacons' bench erupted for Oliver, who sprinted to his teammates in celebration.
Wake Forest up 3-0
GOAL 50': Wake Forest 3-0 Clemson. It's all gotten away from Clemson here. Vlad Walent puts the finishing touches on a Wake Forest possession move with very little pressure from the Tiger defense. Walent cut in on his right foot before pivoting back the other way past Titus Sandy Jr. and beat Clemson GK Trevor Manian at his near post.
Halftime thoughts: Great play at both ends for Wake Forest
The top-ranked Demon Deacons lead by two at the break in Clemson, though they have not dominated the game like they usually do. Wake Forest has yet to create a clear-cut chance at goal, but have the lead thanks to two great finishes from outside the 18-yard box. Niang and Kijima both scored from about the same area just 10 minutes apart from each other, accounting for both of the Deacons' shots on goal.
On the other side of the pitch, goalkeeper Trace Alphin has made a handful of saves of increasing difficulty. Of course, playing with a two-goal lead allows Wake Forest to sit back a little and absorb pressure, and it shows in Clemson's 10 total shots. Alphin has been equal to them all, including this stop to his lower right on a free kick.
Here are the stats from the first half at Riggs Field:
Deacons up 2-0
GOAL 27': Wake Forest 2-0 Clemson. A corner kick is played to Hosei Kijima on the outside of the area, and he lashes one into the bottom left corner for his third goal of the season. It's two shots on goal and a two-goal lead for the Deacons.
Niang gives Wake Forest the lead
GOAL 17': Wake Forest 1-0 Clemson. Babacar Niang curls one into the top corner from outside the box. A stellar finish for his second goal of the season after his attempted pass into Roald Mitchell was cut out. The Demon Deacons lead early in Clemson.
Starting lineups announced, Diop returns for Clemson
Both teams have named their starters for tonight's matchup, and while Ousmane Sylla's return was expected, Clemson fans will be ecstatic to see defender Hamady Diop back in the lineup. Diop is the Tigers' only returner from last season's title-winning defense and is finally healthy after dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out since Aug. 29. Kick-off is just moments away at Riggs Field.
Here is each team's starting XI in full.
How to watch Wake Forest vs. Clemson
- Where: Historic Riggs Field in Clemson, South Carolina
- When: 7 p.m. ET
- How to watch: ACC Network Extra (ESPN+)
Previewing Wake Forest-Clemson
Clemson and Wake Forest meet in a massive ACC clash between the defending College Cup champions and the current No. 1 team in DI men’s soccer.
This will be the 53rd matchup between the programs, a series in which the Deacons lead 24-20-8 all-time. These teams are pretty even in the last five meetings, with two wins each and one scoreless tie the last time Clemson played host. Interestingly, at least one team has been ranked in each of the last 11 meetings — and Saturday will be the seventh time in as many years that both teams rank in the top 10. The most recent battle happened last October, a 2-1 Clemson win that the Tigers dominated in terms of shots (19-5) and corner kicks (12-1), but shots on goal were nearly even (5-4).
The Deacs are one of few teams left in the country with a perfect record so far this season, with eight wins from eight games. They're coming off a 6-1 drubbing of George Mason on Sept. 20 and have outscored opponents 22-5, led by Roald Mitchell's six goals. Clemson last defeated Presbyterian 4-0 after being upset by Syracuse at home on Sept 16. They're led in scoring by Ousmane Sylla, who has four goals and five assists to his name this season.
A game of this magnitude deserves an in-depth analysis of how each team plays in possession, their most influential players and how each team can be exploited. Click or tap here for a full breakdown.