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By Katherine Cottrell

Amidst the chaos of finals week, Clemson students faced another stress when ACC foe Notre Dame scored in the 89th minute of the 2023 NCAA College Cup Championship game. For the last 61 seconds of play, all eyes were on Clemson’s defense as Clemson (9) held off Notre Dame (2) by a score of 2-1. When the final whistle blew, cheers erupted on the library's top floor. 

The Tigers entered the match with the chance to become the third men’s soccer program to earn their second College Cup title in a three-year period.

"We have an opportunity to be remembered forever," said Coach Mike Noonan before the game. 

The Tigers made the most of the opportunity. Midfielder and team captain Brandon Parrish scored unassisted in the 27th minute, delivering a strike from outside the box and giving the Tigers an early lead. The effort landed Parrish a spot in the SportsCenter Top 10. In the 58th minute, Parrish’s goal line stand helped the Tigers keep their lead. 

MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist Ousmane Sylla scored the match's second goal in the 70th minute, putting the Tigers up 2-0. Forward Alex Meinhard assisted with the cross to set up the score for Sylla. 

Notre Dame's goal, the only goal allowed by the Tigers in the College Cup Tournament, occurred from a penalty kick following a handball in the box. The Tigers’ strong defensive effort and goalkeeper Joseph Andema’s four saves held Notre Dame's offense to one score despite 15 shots during the match.

It took some time for Clemson to find their groove this season. The Tigers started the season 2-2-1 and lost to Notre Dame on September 9. Since that loss to the Irish, the Tigers went 13-1-4, allowing 12 goals across those games. 

“Adversity makes you stronger,” said Noonan following the game, ready to celebrate the win. “I can’t wait for the parade.”

A Historic Win

With the win, the Tigers claimed their second national championship in three years and their fourth title in program history. Clemson is now one of four men’s soccer programs in NCAA history to win the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Championship in the same season, joining Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.

Clemson Head Coach Mike Noonan became the third head coach in any Clemson sport to earn two national titles for the Tigers, joining former soccer coach I.M. Ibrahim (1984, 1987) and football coach Dabo Swinney (2016, 2018). With the fourth national title in program history, Clemson Men's Soccer became the first Clemson program to achieve four national championships. 

Tournament Honors 

In addition to winning the College Cup, several Clemson Tigers were honored for their tournament performances. Ousmane Sylla was named Most Outstanding Offensive Player, and freshman Pape Mar Boye won Most Outstanding Defensive Player. 

Four players also made the All-Tournament Team: goalkeeper Joseph Andema, midfielder Brandon Parrish, forward Alex Meinhard, and defensive back Shawn Smart. 

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