Men's Soccer

Syracuse men’s soccer opponent preview: What to know about 4th-seeded Clemson

Courtesy of The ACC

Syracuse will face Clemson on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.

Fifth-seeded Syracuse cruised past No. 12 seed Pittsburgh, 4-0, Wednesday night in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference, advancing to the quarterfinals. The Orange (11-3-3, 3-2-3 Atlantic Coast) face fourth-seeded Clemson (11-2-4, 4-1-3 Atlantic Coast) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Clemson, South Carolina.

In the opening round, Syracuse beat Pitt behind a pair of goals from both Chris Nanco and Jonathan Hagman and shut out the Panthers, even without sophomore defender Miles Robinson. The Tigers had a first-round bye. Sunday’s winner will play in the ACC semifinal against the winner of No. 8 seed Boston College and top seed North Carolina. On the other side of the bracket is No. 6 seed Virginia, No. 3 Louisville, No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 2 Wake Forest.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the 2015 national semifinal rematch between Syracuse and Clemson.

All-time series: Syracuse leads, 3-1-2

Last time they played: The Tigers and Orange have a loaded history in recent years. Sixteen days after Syracuse and Clemson played to a scoreless tie, the conference foes will meet Sunday afternoon for the fifth time in the last two seasons. Two weeks ago, SU out shot Clemson, 11-7, but neither team scored. Mo Adams obtained his fifth yellow card of the year, forcing him to sit out the following game against Wake Forest.

In last year’s ACC semifinal, Syracuse beat Clemson on the road, 2-0, en route to claiming the conference title. The Tigers won the 2015 regular season match and advanced past SU in the national semifinal thanks to penalty kicks.

The Clemson report: Ten different Tigers have scored this year and seven have two or more goals to their name. Clemson ended its regular season with a 1-0 victory over Louisville, handing the Cardinals just its second loss in conference play. Despite getting out shot 10-7, the Tigers shut down a top offense and scored in the 60th minute on a header from freshman Malick Mbaye.

Accompanying junior forward Diego Campos with three or more goals are seniors Aaron Jones and Austen Burnikel. The Tigers are prone to shutouts and low-scoring affairs, though, as their 1.41 goals average places third to last in the ACC. Where they thrive is on defense. Clemson’s 0.55 goals-against average is tied with Syracuse for third in the conference. Clemson has not fallen to an ACC opponent since Sept. 9, when it lost to North Carolina, 1-0.

How Syracuse beats Clemson: A much-awaited breakout from Nanco propelled Syracuse to its first four-goal game since last September against Pittsburgh. Albeit against a far superior team in Pitt, Syracuse’s showing last week is a good indication of what SU can do to win: Score early, defend and rely on playmakers to create for the offense. Of course, SU could just bank on the Nanco effect: When the senior forward scores, Syracuse doesn’t lose. The Orange could replicate last year’s ACC tournament victory over Clemson if one of those factors plays out.

Stat to know: 16 — Syracuse is 16-0 over the last four years when Nanco scores. He has not scored against Clemson in six career games. 

Player to watch: Diego Campos, forward, No. 9

The 5-foot-10, 166-pound junior forward has three game-winners this season. A Costa Rica native, Campos recorded 3.26 shots per game last year as one of Clemson’s primary threats. He leads this year’s team with 5 goals.

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