KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) After 110 tough minutes in the semifinals, both Stanford and Clemson advanced after penalty kick shootouts to the national championship of the College Cup on Sunday.
“We didn’t win,” Clemson coach Mike Noonan said. “We drew. We advanced.”
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The previous national championship Clemson (17-2-4) won was in 1987. The first one came in 1984.
“There were a lot of the guys from the ’84 and the ’87 team (at the semifinal match),” Noonan said. “We’ve been supported by them throughout the entire run and their message to us was, it’s been 30 years. It’s time. It’s about you guys and it’s about your team. We want to start talking about 2015.”
Stanford’s (17-2-3) never won a soccer national championship, but coach Jeremy Gunn has. He coached the Fort Lewis College squad from 1999 to 2006, advancing to the NCAA Division II championship three times, taking the title in 2005.
“I think what really does help is that I’ve been to, what, seven Final Fours now,” Gunn said. “You get to see that you can come here and run around and try to jump through every hoop and answer every text, though I’m not sure texts were invented when I first started. You realize just how to manage it for the players.”
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In its semifinal, Clemson was led by goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell, who made eight saves in regulation and overtime and allowed Syracuse to only score on one of four penalty kicks. His eight saves were the highest he’s had in a match all season. Through the regular season, Tarbell had 75 saves and eight shutouts, the highest in the ACC.
“It’s the result of doing your best every day in training and in games,” Tarbell said. “Approaching every game exactly the same way no matter what stage it is. Just pray and dreams for games like that. Things have to fall your way as a goalkeeper and they did, and that helped us get all the way to the finals.”
Stanford is led by Jordan Morris, the first college player to be called up to the U.S. men’s national team since 1999. Morris had three shots in the semifinal against Akron. His penalty kick was blocked. Though Morris has an international cap and has had international success, his team keeps him grounded.
“He’s got great teammates who love him,” Gunn said. “But they love him because of who he is.”