CHARLESTON, S.C. – Wake Forest scored three goals in the first half and held on to defeat Clemson, 3-1, to claim the 2016 ACC Men’s Soccer Championship at MUSC Health Stadium.
The Demon Deacons (15-2-3) were led by Championship Most Valuable Player Ian Harkes, who tallied a goal and an assist, and by goalkeeper Alec Ferrell, who made eight saves in the win. The title is the second for Wake Forest in program history and first since 1989.
“I couldn’t be more proud for how the guys stepped up and played tonight,” said Wake Forest coach Bobby Muuss. “Twenty-seven years (since the last title), a lot of players have played here -- a lot of really good players have played here and a lot of really good teams -- and this trophy has been elusive.”
Harkes, the ACC Midfielder of the Year, got the Deacons on the board in the 24th minute. Luis Argudo dropped the ball off to Harkes, who fired in a long-range shot from outside the box and past a sprawling Ximo Miralles in net for Clemson.
Jacori Hayes pushed the Wake Forest lead to 2-0 with a strike in the 35th minute, assisted by Harkes. The goal was his team-leading seventh of the season.
Wake Forest got a third goal to close out the first half, as Steven Echevarria collected a loose rebound after a shot from Tane Gent to score his first of the season.
In the second half, the Clemson offense generated pressure and held a 10-4 edge in shots. Tanner Dieterich got the Tigers on the board in the 67th minute, scoring his first goal of the year on a penalty kick.
Wake Forest’s Alec Ferrell registered five saves in the second half and eight for the game.
With the loss, Clemson falls to 12-3-5 and will await the NCAA Championship selection show Monday at 1 p.m.
“It obviously not a very good first half,” said Clemson coach Mike Noonan. “We showed there’s a little more character in the second half. Our response was very good but by that time we were too far behind.”
"Give Wake Forest credit - they came out, had a good plan, and they punished us. We have played poorly a few times this season and haven't been punished, and Wake Forest punished us, that is what good teams do," said Noonan. "Tomorrow is a new day, and we are looking forward to the NCAA Tournament."