- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - T.J. Casner didn’t necessarily want to be in penalty kicks.

Still, the senior took a deep breath, picked his side and fired. His kick went in, and pandemonium followed.

“Taking penalties, it’s not always the best thing to finish a soccer game,” Casner said. “It’s not always something you want to do, but at times it’s necessary. I felt prepared. I wasn’t too nervous when I stepped up to kick it. I had my side chosen and what I wanted to do and I guess the craziness after is just like you would expect it to be.”

Goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made eight saves between regulation and overtime and Casner scored Clemson’s fourth-straight penalty kick to outlast sixth-seeded Syracuse 4-1 on penalty kicks Friday night in the NCAA College Cup semifinals.

“I think the game of soccer is cruel sometimes,” Clemson coach Mike Noonah said. “We are very, very happy that we advanced, but we have to give a lot of credit to Syracuse.”



After the teams finished overtime tied 0-0, Clemson scored on each of its PK attempts, getting goals from Imam Mafi, Michael Melvin and Thales Moreno before Casner ended it. Julian Buescher had Syracuse’s only conversion.

The Orange had eight shots in the second half, requiring four saves from Tarbell. He made a season-high seven saves in regulation and had one more during the two 10-minute overtime sessions.

In the 86th minute, Tarbell grabbed his sixth save off a booming kick from Syracuse’s Ben Polk. Despite Syracuse’s offensive power, the Orange couldn’t get one to fall in the net and it was sent into overtime.

“I think we had our chances,” Syracuse’s Juuso Pasanen said. “Their goalkeeper played well. That’s the game of soccer. Sometimes it just doesn’t go in.”

Clemson put up two shots in the first overtime, but one was saved and the other attempt was blocked. Syracuse attempted three shots in the second overtime, but two were off frame while Tarbell saved the other.

In the first half, Syracuse had four shots, including three on goal, and Tarbell made impressive saves on all three. Clemson had one shot on goal, but Syracuse goalkeeper Hendrick Hilpert came up with the save.

“They’ve got nothing to feel sorry about,” Syracuse coach Ian McIntyre said of his team’s performance.

The ACC rivals squared off twice during the regular season. Clemson edged out Syracuse 1-0 in the first match in the Orange’s only home loss of the season. Syracuse came away with the second match, winning 2-0, giving Clemson its only home loss of the season.

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