Gauchos fall at Clemson in round of 16

Second-seeded Clemson scored two goals in the second half and knocked No. 15 UCSB out of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament with a 3-2 victory in a round of 16 game on a rainy Sunday night in Clemson, S.C.

Forward Kyle Murphy scored the game-winner in the 79th minute off an assist from Saul Chinchilla.

Clemson (17-2-2) advances to the quarterfinals and will play Maryland on Friday. UCSB ends the season at 14-7-2.

“I told the players after the game that I was proud of their performance and how they played tonight,” said UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg. “They followed directions and gave me everything they had. I think that anyone who watched the game or was on the field can see that that game was there to be won.”

The Gauchos controlled play in the first half and scored first when three substitutes combined on a beautiful goal. In the 39th minute, Cody Gibson, who just entered the game, hit a long diagonal ball to Josue Espana, who headed it across to Seo-In Kim for a diving header past Clemson goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell at the near post.

Clemson equalized in the final seconds of the first half. Defender Aaron Jones, on a give-and-go, showed some good footwork on the ball, beat two Gaucho defenders before unleashing a powerful left-footed shot that ricocheted off the right post and into the goal.

It was a disappointing finish to an otherwise solid half for UCSB. The Gauchos controlled most of the possession and created good scoring chances. Early in the half, Kevin Feucht missed a great chance on the doorstep when he volleyed an excellent cross from Geoffrey Acheampong over the cross bar.

“The most disappointing part was the first goal for Clemson,” said Vom Steeg. “To work so hard in that first half, get the goal to go ahead, and then not get rewarded was a real letdown.”

Clemson took a 2-1 lead in the 69th minute on a left-footed blast by Diego Campos from 19 yards. Campos dribbled across the top of the penalty area and ripped a shot into the upper left corner.

“We scored a couple of world-class goals, and that certainly made a difference,” Clemson coach Mike Noonan said.

UCSB came back on a heads-up play by Feucht. He intercepted a headed backpass to the goalie and poked the ball into an open net to tie the match at 2-2 in the 71st minute.

Clemson’s game winner was a nice piece of work between Murphy and Chinchilla. Murphy picked up a through ball, laid it off to Chinchilla and sprinted toward the middle of the penalty area. Chinhilla broke in on goal and drew Gaucho goalkeeper Justin Vom Steeg toward him before deftly sliding the ball to a wide-open Murphy, who tapped it into the open net.