women's soccer goal

Freshman midfielder Megan Bornkamp (24) celebrates a goal during a match against the Pittsburgh Panthers on Oct. 29, 2020 at Historic Riggs Field. Bornkamp leads the Tigers in goals, 5, and points, 11, heading into the spring season.

Like other fall sports across the ACC, Clemson women’s soccer is returning to the pitch for a six-game spring campaign prior to a hopeful berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The spring schedule includes five unique opponents for the Tigers, none of whom are in the ACC. The College of Charleston joins Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and in-state rival South Carolina on the Tigers’ spring schedule.

In the fall, the Tigers went 6-4 overall and 5-4 in ACC play. The Tigers began the fall campaign outscoring opponents 10-0 over their first three games against Miami, Virginia Tech and Virginia. They ended as the No. 5 team in the United Soccer Coaches poll. However, only teams that competed in the fall were ranked by the poll.

The Tigers will be without top playmaker Mariana Speckmaier. The Washington Spirit selected Speckmaier in the fourth round of the NWSL Draft on Jan. 13. Speckmaier joins fellow Clemson alumna Sam Staab, who was selected fourth overall by the Spirit in the 2019 draft.

Head Coach Eddie Radwanski has not made a statement concerning whether or not the Tigers’ other three seniors, Kimber Haley, Abigail Mitchell and Audrey Viso, will return for the spring season. The 2020 seniors were honored on the pitch following their Oct. 11, 2020, win over Wake Forest. Aside from Speckmaier, Haley, a midfielder from Fort Mill, S.C., was the only senior to start a match for the Tigers in the fall.

The Tigers start their spring by visiting the College of Charleston for a two-game set on Feb. 25 and 28. The Cougars last played in the fall of 2019, in which they had an 8-10 record, including two losses to ACC opponents.

The Tigers return home on March 6 to host Auburn. The Auburn Tigers posted a 4-4-2 record in the fall and exited the SEC Tournament in the second round after a loss to the eventual runners-up, the Arkansas Razorbacks. Auburn will be without one of its own top players, Alyssa Malonson, who was selected 20th overall by the NC Courage in the NWSL draft. Manlonson ranked second for Auburn in points during the fall season. The Auburn Tigers last made the trip to Historic Riggs Field in 2018 for an exhibition that ended in a 2-2 draw.

The Tigers will then play host to a frequent foe, the Georgia Bulldogs, on March 20. The Bulldogs posted a lackluster 2-4-2 record in the fall, including no road wins. Unlike Clemson and Auburn, Georgia had no departures due to the NWSL draft. The Tigers last made the trip to Athens, Ga., during the 2017 season, winning 2-0, and last hosted the Bulldogs during the 2019 season, winning 2-1.

The women’s soccer team will welcome frequent Clemson athletics adversary Alabama to Historic Riggs Field on April 3. Aside from the notable College Football Playoff National Championship and semifinal games over the last six years, the Tigers have faced the Crimson Tide in women’s basketball in 2019 and in men’s basketball earlier this season. The Crimson Tide posted a 2-5-2 record in the fall, including a first-round SEC Tournament exit at the hands of the LSU Tigers.

The Tigers round out the spring season with in-state rival South Carolina in Columbia on April 10. The Gamecocks posted a 7-3 record in the fall, which includes a 2-1 double-overtime win over the eventual SEC tournament champion Vanderbilt Commodores. While the Gamecocks did not lose any players to the NWSL Draft, senior defender — and native of England — Anna Patten signed a professional contract with Arsenal Women’s Football Club in London following the Gamecocks’ fall campaign. The Tigers won last season’s matchup with the Gamecocks, but the Gamecocks won the SEC Tournament and reached the Elite Eight in their last full season of action in 2019.

The NCAA will set the field for the reduced-capacity NCAA Tournament on April 18. The Tigers will hope to hear their names called as an at-large bid, as Florida State will receive the ACC’s automatic bid after completing a perfect 11-0 fall season and winning the ACC Tournament in November.

The Women’s College Cup is scheduled for May 13-17 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., with dates subject to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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