The Eagles come to a halt in the second round of the NCAA Tournament

After beating Jacksonville in the first round by penalty kicks, men’s soccer loses 2-1 against top-ranked Clemson

The Eagles come to a halt in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
Defender Nicolas Blassou taking a header during the Patriot League Championship

The American University men’s soccer season came to an end with a 2-1 loss to the nation’s No. 1 seed Clemson Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on May 2. Despite an early lead by the Eagles, Clemson rallied back to equalize, eventually scoring the game-winning penalty kick in the 62nd minute of the second half.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” head coach Zach Samol said postgame. “It was gonna be a tough win today; we knew that it was going to be tough, they’re trying their best. They’re doing what we are asking them to do, and I think we just needed maybe just a little bit more luck on our side tonight.”

The sole goal for the Eagles came once again from junior forward David Coly, who scored in just the fourth minute of the match to put the team on top until the second half. Senior forward Jerry Zouantcha set Coly up for the goal with a pass into the box, allowing Coly to strike and score his seventh goal of the season.

The Tigers mounted a comeback in the second half, scoring an equalizing goal in the 51st minute and then converting a penalty kick after a handball in the goal box by the Eagles. The penalty kick, which came in the 62nd minute, sealed the Tigers victory.

Before the match against Clemson, the Eagles faced the Jacksonville Dolphins on April 29 in a first-round thriller, winning 5-4 on penalty kicks after the match ended 3-3. Three different Eagles scored in the match, but the heroes of the match were senior goalkeeper Jake Agnew and senior defender Oscar McConnell.

Coly, junior defender Nicolas Blassou, and sophomore midfielder Jack Green each scored in the match. After both teams were held scoreless in the overtime periods, the game went to a penalty kick shootout. 

The Eagles were able to make all five of their penalty kicks and Agnew forced the only miss of the shootout from Jacksonville. McConnell sealed the game with a clean strike into the upper left corner of the net.

The Eagles will look to build momentum after the end of a historic season, and coach Samol said he knows that the experiences that they gained were valuable.

“These two games in the NCAA Tournament are just a great experience for our team, for our young guys,” Samol said. “Just experiencing the pressure that exists here, just dealing with what the NCAA Tournament is, dealing with PKs against Jacksonville. Those kinds of experiences you can talk about them, but you have to live them and experience them, and I think that is really going to help us in the future.” 

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