Pioneers beat Clemson, move on to semifinals
Kortne Ford scored a late goal Friday night to send the Denver Pioneers past the Clemson Tigers 1-0 at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson, S.C., to advance to the College Cup semifinals.
The Pioneers, in advancing to the final four of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament, remained unbeaten on the season at 20-0-3. It was the Pioneers’ 14th shutout in 23 matches this season, including 13 of its last 18 games.
“For us to be able to come to Clemson with as many people rooting against us and for my guys to continue to stand up, their resiliency, their fight and their togetherness makes them a special group,” Denver coach Jamie Franks said after the game.
Denver was pinned back for much of the second half, but pushed men forward in the 89th minute on a throw in deep in the Clemson half. As the game seemed destined for overtime, Ford, a junior center back from Greeley, headed home a ball served in to the near post by junior midfielder Alex Underwood for the game-winner.
“It was kind of surreal. Only one minute to go after the goal went in,” Ford said. “When you get that goal with one minute to go, it’s like, ‘all right, let’s break down, we’ve gotta defend for one more minute.’ ”
The goal was the fifth of the season for Ford, who spent time in the Colorado Rapids youth academy.
Denver will face the winner of No. 2 Wake Forest and Virginia Tech in the College Cup semifinals on Dec. 9 in Houston.
“We’re going to Houston to get a trophy,” Franks said.