The largest crowd to ever watch an East Tennessee State soccer game had to settle for a tie.
A Summers-Taylor Stadium-record crowd of 1,771 watched the Bucs play Clemson to a 1-1 draw Monday night.
“The crowd was great,” ETSU coach Scott Calabrese said. “I really appreciate the support they gave us. ETSU, the soccer community and the Johnson City community came and made it a great atmosphere.”
The crowd was treated to a spirited game in which each team was called for 16 fouls. ETSU was handed three yellow cards.
David Geno scored the lone goal for the Bucs (8-5-3). Austin Savage got the tying score for the Tigers (5-8-1.)
“It was a good game,” Calabrese said. “We created some chances early. Our team played hard, especially considering the fact they had played 48 hours before.”
Geno opened the scoring 10 minutes into the game, and he got a helping hand from Itode Fubara.
Fubara collected the ball near the sideline some 40 yards from the goal and broke away from the Clemson defense with a nifty spin move. He sprinted up the left wing and sent a low pass into the penalty area. Geno trapped the ball and blasted a left-footed shot into the lower right corner of the net.
“Fube made a great run,” Geno said. “That goal was all on him.”
Clemson got the equalizer two minutes into the second half when Savage headed in a cross from Jack Metcalf.
The Bucs had two chances to regain the lead with 25 minutes left, but Clemson goalkeeper Cody Mizell turned both away. First, Mizell made a diving stop on Aaron Schoenfeld’s header. Alesi Osorio then gathered the rebound and blasted a shot that was deflected wide by Mizell.
“We created some chances,” Geno said.
The Bucs outshot Clemson 16-13. They forced Mizell to make five saves. ETSU’s Ryan Coulter stopped two Clemson shots.
The Bucs close the regular season Saturday with a crucial Atlantic Sun Conference home game against USC-Upstate. ETSU needs a win to qualify for the conference tournament. A loss or a tie and the defending champion Bucs, who were nationally ranked just a few weeks ago, will be mere spectators at the tournament they are hosting.
“At the end of the day, we still control our own destiny,” Calabrese said. “If we win, we’re in our conference tournament. If we lose, we go home.”
If they go home, six other teams will be playing on the Bucs’ home field.
“That would be devastating to me personally,” Calabrese said. “I know the players don’t want that to happen. Every team faces adversity. It’s how you handle it that counts.”