An in-depth look at fall athletics

Recapping what we’ve seen from the men’s and women’s soccer teams in 2020

Jake Stuart, Staff Writer

In continuing with the fall athletic series, I will provide an in-depth look at Wake Forest teams and their performances this season. Last week, we recapped the women’s volleyball and men’s football team. This week we’re back through the lens of the pitch: men’s and women’s soccer. Let’s kick it! 

Men’s Soccer 

Record: 7-1(5-1 vs ACC)

Wins against Louisville, NC State (2), UAB, UNC, Duke, Clemson

Loss against Clemson 

Preseason Expectations  

The Demon Deacons opened the year with high expectations, coming off a 16-5-2 record. In regular season play last season, the team had big wins against No. 4 Clemson, No. 15 UCF, No. 19 UNC, No. 20 NC State and No. 25 Louisville. In the ACC tournament, the team beat No. 22 Virginia Tech in dramatic fashion, with a thrilling penalty kick separating the two teams, before being eliminated by top-ranked Virginia by a goal in the semifinal. The NCAA tournament followed this trend, with the team dominating its first three games before being once again bested by Virginia, this time in the College Cup Semifinal. The team lost six seniors, but brought in eight hungry and bright freshmen who are led by the No. 104 prospect in the nation, Chase Oliver. This group has already made a difference. Wake Forest was expected to once again be a threat going into 2020, with the majority of polls having them in the top five going into the season. 

How Things Have Played Out 

Despite the COVID-19 shortened season, the Deacs came out strong, winning their first four games with a commanding +9 goal differential before suffering their only loss of the season to the Clemson Tigers. They have spent half of the season ranked atop the nation, wreaking havoc on their opponents. Junior Kyle Holcomb leads the team accounting for five goals during the season, two of them game winners, placing him at second in the country for the scoring mark, respectively. Furthermore, junior Isaiah Parente leads the team with four assists, placing him at third in the nation for the tally. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Andrew Pannenberg is fifth in the nation in save percentage and goals against average as well, with an astonishing four shutouts on the year. A big reason for the team’s success this year comes down to the depth and balanced play style of the Deacs. Wake Forest is third in the country in points per game and goals against, with seven different players having a goal under their name. Suffice it to say, the team came out with a bang. Winners of their last four games, the Demon Deacons men’s soccer team heads to the ACC tournament with a fiery mentality. 

What’s to come

Wake Forest and Virginia are set for a battle of the ages Sunday, Nov. 15 at 4 p.m. in the first round of this year’s ACC men’s soccer tournament. The Deacs are looking for some sweet revenge after their two losses to the Cavaliers last season. 

Women’s Soccer 

Record: 3-5-1(3-4-1 vs ACC)

Wins against Miami, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh 

Losses against Duke, UNC, Florida State, Clemson, VT 

At surface level, it appears that the Deacs had a disappointing and difficult season. The team only scored ten goals on the year and had three wins. 

However, they were without six players from last season and had a young and developing group. Six different players scored goals this year, showing that the talent is there. Two of the losses came in overtime to Duke (one in double overtime) and the team only lost two games by more than one goal. Another two losses were to top threats in Florida State and North Carolina, both of which went undefeated this season. 

They won three games against terrific ACC opponents, after winning only one game against the conference last season. Additionally, the team had promising games and stretches of the season that they can use to build for next season. 

They only gave up 18 goals during the season and shutout their opponents on four occasions. Freshman Sophie Faircloth led the team with three goals during the year with senior Ryanne Brown and junior Sofia Rossi scoring a pair of goals as well. The high point of the season was no doubt the victory in South Bend against the No. 14 Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Junior Shayla Smart scored the game winning goal while freshmen goalkeeper Kaitlyn Parks had an astonishing nine saves to keep the team rolling. Parks, who got her first start of the season in this game, finished the season with two shutout wins and 20 saves in those three appearences. 

The Deacs finished the season winners of two of their last three games and capitalized on the strong defensive play down the stretch. They did not make the ACC tournament this year. but look to build on the strong end to the season for next year.