Wake Forest Men’s Soccer defeats Duke

The Deacs won a thriller against the Blue Devils on the road over the weekend


Sophomore standout Omar Hernandez scored a spectacular goal against Duke on Friday, helping lead the Deacs to a pivotal victory (Photo courtesy of @WakeMSoccer/Twitter)

JB Blood, Staff Writer

Friday night’s matchup between the Wake Forest Men’s Soccer team and Duke Blue Devils epitomized the principle of quality over quantity. Despite being outshot 18-8, the Deacs had higher quality opportunities, and took advantage of them, to secure a hard-fought 2-1 victory. 

Wake Forest entered the game as the second-ranked team in the country (behind Pitt) and were coming off a victory over UNC and a close loss to Clemson. Meanwhile, Duke had experienced its own gut-wrenching loss to Clemson, a 2-1 defeat in double overtime. The Deacs have dominated the series between the two in-state rivals in recent years, with the last Duke victory coming in 2011. 

Duke came out with an aggressive game plan and pressed Wake Forest for a large portion of the match. The Deacons dealt with the pressure well, however, and kept possession for 57% of the match. With that being said, when Duke did have possession, it was often on the Wake Forest half of the field. In fact, 67% of Duke’s possession took place on the Wake Forest side of the field. 56% of Wake Forest’s possession was on Duke’s half of the field, highlighting how often both sides were in attacking mode throughout this match. 

Sophomore sensation Calvin Harris opened up the scoring for Wake Forest in the 20th minute. Midfielder and redshirt sophomore Jake Swallen was at the top of the 18-yard box and passed the ball to Calvin Harris, who was between the left corner and center of the top of the box. Harris one-touched the ball with his right foot and found the back of the net after a deflection off the crossbar. The stunning goal was Harris’ third of the season. 

Wake Forest held onto their 1-0 lead until the 71st minute when Duke’s Jack Doran scored his third goal of the season to tie it up at one apiece. The goal was a long time coming, Duke had multiple long sequences right in front of the Deacons goal to start the second half, and it felt like it was only a matter of time before one of Duke’s shots broke through. In the second half, Duke put up 13 shots, but due to great goalkeeping by redshirt junior Andrew Pannenberg, only one found the net. 

After Duke evened up the score, Wake Forest became more aggressive and started pushing the ball downfield. In the 85th minute, junior Kyle Holcomb was dribbling the ball just outside the right side of the box, and he was fouled by a Duke player, which gave Wake Forest a free-kick. Sophomore Omar Hernandez, who made his second career start that day, was tasked with taking the free-kick. Hernandez’s shot curved across the box and sailed into the upper corner of the far side of the goal, over the leaping Duke goalie, to give Wake Forest a 2-1 lead and, five minutes later, the road victory over the Blue Devils. 

The Wake Forest defense did a superb job of interfering with Duke’s offensive rhythm and limiting their shots on goal. Of Duke’s 18 shots, less than half (eight) were on goal. The starting defensive line of junior Holland Rula, freshman Cristian Escribano, sophomore Nico Benalcazar and freshman Garrison Tubbs again played with a lot of chemistry and have been integral to Wake Forest’s success thus far. Pannenberg ended the day with six total saves. 

Wake Forest’s next game is a rematch against Clemson on Friday, Oct. 30, at Spry Stadium. After falling to the Tigers in their last matchup, the Demon Deacons look ready to flip the script and claim the victory this time around.