As a freshman fighting for playing time at the University of Detroit Mercy men's soccer team, Clauss netted a goal in a preseason game at the University of Pittsburgh.
His excitement was short-lived, however, as he quickly learned some bad news.
"I was just really excited because we played at Pittsburgh, and I scored a goal in a preseason game and felt like I was making a name for myself and possibly earning some extra playing time," said Clauss. "Then, my feet started hurting, and I had to get X-rays and I found out the bad news."
Clauss had stress fractures in both of his feet, which required screws to be placed and had the young soccer player on crutches for four months.
"Rehab was tough, but I was lucky enough to have a good training staff around me," he said. "I came in twice a day, and they had a whole schedule set for me as far as workouts I could do and other stretches for me. It was a good support system, and everyone was very helpful at a time that was really difficult to go through."
Since battling through his injury, Clauss has gone on to have a decorated collegiate career with the Titans. In fact, he's only missed one game in the four seasons since his injury.
The fifth-year senior midfielder has played in 73 games, including 67 starts. He's recorded seven goals, five assists, 19 points and 91 shots on goal. He ranks third on the team this season with five points.
The Titans had to sweat out their final week of the regular season after dropping three straight 1-0 matches at the end of October. However, Detroit Mercy defeated Cleveland State on Nov. 3 and Northern Kentucky dropped a conference match to Green Bay, which helped the Titans earn the final seed the conference tournament this week.
The Titans took on No. 3 seed Milwaukee on Monday in a Horizon League Championship quarterfinal match and won a thrilling match via penalty kick shootout, 5-4.
In the second round of the shootout, with his team needing to answer Milwaukee's back-to-back shootout goals, Clauss stepped up to the box and delivered the equalizer for his team. In the fifth round of the shootout, Milwaukee's shot missed, while Max Becker recorded the game-winning shootout goal to send the Titans to today's semifinals.
The No. 6-seeded Titans (7-7-4) are set to take on top-seeded Green Bay at 5 p.m. at Flames Field on the campus of the University of Illinois Chicago. The championship match of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday.
The semifinals can be viewed live on ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN App.
Clauss, whose favorite soccer player is Ricardo Kaka, has found his role on the team and has turned that into a big advantage for the Titans on both ends of the field.
"I've played more of box-to-box position the past few seasons," he said. "I enjoy it because my job isn't to blow by people on offense. My game is to be more technical and make good passes and good decisions. I'm always trying to gain possession for my team in the middle of the field, start a good break and hopefully set my teammates up with scoring opportunities."
Clauss is also a two-time team captain for the Titans. His leadership has been invaluable for a program that features 18 underclassmen and only seven seniors.
Before he was a standout performer in the college ranks, Clauss was a four-time, first team All-Conference performer for the Spring Lake boys soccer program. He was also named to the All-Area team four times and All-District team four times.
He was named first team All-State as a junior and senior, and also took home an honorable mention All-State award his freshman year and gained third team All-State recognition his sophomore year.
Clauss was also named to the MHSSCA Dream Team his senior year.
As a three-sport athlete for the Lakers, Clauss earned four letters in soccer, three in basketball and two in baseball. He was named first-team All-Conference and first team All-Area in baseball his sophomore year.
"My time at Spring Lake was so much fun," he reflected. "Playing with your best friends will be something you never forget it. Those are memories that I really cherish to this day. Coach (Jeremy) Thelen was the best at keeping soccer fun. He made every practice session enjoyable and feel less like work.
"Nowadays, the top soccer players end up playing an academy somewhere, but I'm glad I didn't do that. I would have missed out on a lot of great memories and opportunities ."
Despite enjoying all three sports at Spring Lake, Clauss had to make a tough decision after his sophomore year at the school.
"After my sophomore year, I had to decide between soccer and baseball," he said. "I wanted to take them both seriously, but that's difficult to do if you want to excel at one of those sports. I thought I had the best chance of continuing my career with soccer, so I decided to put all my energy and training into that.
"It was really hard to leave baseball behind. I really enjoyed playing baseball and basketball and I played for some great coaches at that point in time."
With his soccer career coming to a close, Clauss now has his eyes on a future in business. He is closing in on finishing his educational career at Detroit Mercy with a Master’s in Business Administration and already has some experience in the field.
"I've already interned at Fiat Chrysler, and I'm hoping to get started in that field as soon as I graduate," he said. "I may also look into the Oakland County FC, and see if I can play some club soccer, too. It's been an amazing experience at Detroit Mercy and I'm so thankful that I was able to enjoy a soccer career here and pursue a degree in something that I'm passionate about."
HORIZON LEAGUE SEMIFINALS
No. 6 Detroit Mercy (7-7-4) vs. No. 1 Green Bay (8-4-3)
Dates/Time: Today, 5 p.m.
Location: Chicago, Ill. (Flames Field)
Live Stats: DetroitTitans.com
Live Stream/Video: ESPN3 & WatchESPN App.
Social Media: Twitter (In-game Tweets): @UDMSoccer
All-Time Series: Titans lead 12-10-6
Last Meeting: Green Bay 3, Titans 1 (9/16/17)