Men’s soccer comes from behind again to win

The Demon Deacons pick up three points on the road against Notre Dame


Wake Forest players celebrating Kyle Holcomb’s last-minute goal and the team’s win against Notre Dame on March 20 in Southbend, IN.

Christina Denovio, Sports Editor

Wake Forest men’s soccer has proven yet again that they can come from behind late in the game and secure a victory.

Coming off a 0-0 draw against NC State, Wake Forest (No. 5) was looking to regain the momentum they had lost since their thrilling 3-2 win against Boston College on March 6. This past Saturday, the team did just that with another exciting 3-2 win against Notre Dame.

Associate Head Coach Steve Armas is proud of the resiliency the team has shown so far this season.

“This young group continues to amaze the staff. We hope that the impact of these results will continue to unfold,” Coach Armas said, “The hope is that when we face another adverse moment or situation in the future, it will not be new. We will try to apply what we have learned and leave everything we have on the field.”

Thanks to goals by sophomore Omar Hernandez, freshman Ryan Fessler and junior Kyle Holcomb, Wake Forest was able to overcome a Fighting Irish defense that had not conceded a goal in the previous 287 minutes of play.

Notre Dame kicked off the scoring with a goal in the eighth minute by Dawson McCartney. Less than ten minutes later, however, Hernandez responded for Demon Deacons with his only shot of the game, which resulted in a goal.

“Scoring the goal after going down early felt great,” Hernandez said. “It was a wake-up call for us so we can start doing what we are good at.”

It wasn’t until the 70th minute of the game that another goal was scored, this time by the Fighting Irish. The Deacs were quick to respond once again as Fessler scored less than six minutes later. Fessler’s goal from outside the 18-yard box was assisted by junior Holland Rula. The goal, which came from Fessler’s only shot of the game, was also his first as a Demon Deacon. Fessler was a mid-year enrollee.

When asked how it felt to get his first goal on Saturday, Fessler said, “It was a great feeling. The timing of the goal definitely made it more special since that was the second time in the game where we came from behind.”

He continued, “[I] hope it’s the first of many, and I can keep contributing and helping the team.”

The game was tied up at 2-2 as the clock wound down. Unwilling to settle for another draw, the Deacs struck again. Holcomb, who had three shots on the night, received a cross from freshman Jahlane Forbes in the 89th minute. Next thing, the ball was in the back of the net, causing celebration for Wake Forest players, coaches and fans.

When asked how the win affects the team moving forward, the first goalscorer, Hernandez, said, “I think any win can boost our confidence and it’s great to see that with such a young team. We have the mentality to keep fighting all the way until the end.”

Making four saves, Demon Deacon goalkeeper and redshirt freshman Cole McNally came in clutch throughout the night. The first was in just the sixth minute of the game, and he had another big save in the 50th that kept McCartney from getting on the scoreboard for the second time.

Discussing the team’s come-from-behind wins, “I think it makes us all believe in each other as a group, especially to come back from behind in two games this season. Our mentality going into every game is that we’re going to win, no matter who we’re playing or how the game’s going.”

Wake Forest got the well-deserved three points on the road they were looking for. Last week, the team was only able to put up one point in the 110-minute draw against NC State.

When asked how it feels to defeat a strong opponent like the Fighting Irish on the road, Coach Armas said, “To be honest, any points in the ACC are hard to come by. Now, couple that with being away from home and winning against a good cross-divisional conference opponent, it elevates the value of the result.”

This game marked Wake Forest’s first win against Notre Dame in Southbend, IN in program history. They also become one of three teams that have reached the 10-win mark already this season.

On the topic of what the coaching staff would like to see improved upon, Coach Armas explained, “The biggest thing right now is we need to get players back healthy so we can add some much-needed depth to the group.” Armas continued: “Additionally, we need to continue to take care of the ball with every possession and limit turnovers in key areas of the field.”

Next up on the schedule is a home game against Louisville on March 27. The last time the team played Louisville, it was the Deacs’ first game of the season and Wake Forest won, 3-1.