Austin Schlirf scored both goals and the Clover Blue Eagles upset the third-ranked Irmo Yellow Jackets 2-1 in the third round of the Class AAAA soccer playoffs Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Clover.
Schlirf scored Clover’s first goal of the game in the first 20 seconds of the second half. The Blue Eagles controlled the second half kickoff, and Tom Felder passed the ball to Schlirf, who moved in and scored.
That effort erased a 1-0 Irmo lead, and set the stage for an exciting second half of play between the two teams.
“Beating Irmo is the greatest feeling I have ever had,” said Schlirf. “ We knew we could do it if we worked hard. When we got down early, that only seemed to make us play harder. This is unbelievable.”
Schlirf put Clover ahead to stay in the 61st minute when he handled a kick out of a corner kick and stuck it in the left corner of the goal.
From that point on the Yellow Jackets turned it up on offense. The Blue Eagles responded on defense.
Freshman goalkeeper Robert Schreiner had three of his five saves for the day from that point until the end, and the Blue Eagle defenders were always in the right place at the right time to stop any other scoring attempts.
“Everybody did a good job of marking,” said Clover head coach Chris Dundr. “We really stressed that during practice, and I thought we very good at it today.”
Irmo drew first blood with a goal by Matt Manter. The goal came off a corner kick at the 17 minute mark in first half.
The Blue Eagles used two different strategies in pulling of the victory to improve to 17-4 on the year.
“We knew they were a high-scoring team,” added Dundr. “We focused on the defensive end in the first half.”
Clover left the field at half trailing 1-0, and Dundr switched strategies in the second half of play.
“We put more guys up front in the second half,” he added. “We work a lot on the play that we scored a goal on in the first 20 seconds of the second half. That goal really picked us up.”
Clover will play J. L. Mann of Greenville on the road in the fourth round of play.
“I can’t describe in words how I feel right now. No other Clover soccer team has ever made it this far in the playoffs,” added Dunbr. “Both teams played extremely well. We capitalized on our few scoring opportunities, and played some great defense.”
Clover 2, Irmo 1
I - Matt Manter, 17:00, unassisted
C - Austin Schlirf, 41:00, assist Tom Felder
C - Austin Schlirf, 58:00, unassisted
Shots on goal: Irmo 6, Clover 3. Saves: Irmo 1 (Raad Willner 1), Clover 5 (Robert Schreiner 5).
Records: Irmo 23-4, Clover 17-4.