GREENWOOD – Penalty kicks. Clinton lost the Emerald Cup boys’ soccer tournament by virtue of them after the Red Devils and the host Vikings tied 2-2 in regulation on Saturday night.
Clinton head coach John Michael Hammond called it “high-intensity from the kickoff.” The Red Devils began the day with a 6-2 victory over Laurens after defeating Saluda 2-1 on Friday.
The Red Devils struck first in the title match, with senior striker J.P. Snelgrove racing in behind the defense to drive home a pass from freshman midfielder Jeremiah Gonzalez. Both teams threatened the opposing goal multiple times in the first half, but Clinton maintained the 1-0 lead into halftime.
The lead did not last, though, as Emerald capitalized on a Clinton defensive mistake to tie the game at 1-1 midway through the latter half. Thanks to several crucial saves by both goalkeepers, the game remained tied at 1-1 and headed into overtime.
Early in the first overtime period, the Vikings got in behind the Clinton defense and slid the ball past Clinton goalkeeper Colby Suber to take a 2-1 lead. With only minutes remaining in the game, Clinton found the miracle it needed, as Jeremiah Gonzalez smashed home a powerful volley to bring the Devils level once again.
Fittingly, the game went on to penalty kicks. Both teams found the net multiple times on kicks from the spot, but Emerald pulled out the win, making 4 kicks to Clinton’s 2 to claim the Cup for the host school.
It was chilly Saturday morning when Clinton took on Laurens. The Raiders struck early, driving home a cross to take a 1-0 lead only a few minutes into the game. Snelgrove responded to knot the game at 1-1 going into half.
The Devils took control in the second half, though, as Snelgrove and Gonzalez each scored. Laurens’ Nick Verdin got behind the Devil defense to bring the game to 3-2, but the comeback didn’t last. Snelgrove scored a total of 5 goals to put the Raiders away by a final score of 6-2.
Bryan Diaz assisted both Raider goals. Douglas Velasquez made 4 saves in goal.
Laurens played to scoreless ties in two of its three Emerald Cup games, to Westside on Friday and Saluda on Saturday.
Clinton has one more week of preseason and then will open the regular season on Monday, March 1, at Newberry High School.