Wake Forest men’s soccer upsets Virginia Tech

Roald Mitchell, Jahlane Forbes and Kyle Holcomb netted goals in the win


Charles Horn, Staff Writer

For the second time this season, Wake Forest men’s soccer defeated the No. 5 team in the country 3-1. In September, it was goals from senior Kyle Holcomb, and sophomores Garrison Tubbs and Chase Oliver that sank the Pittsburgh Tigers. On Saturday night, it was freshman Roald Mitchell, sophomore Jahlane Forbes and Holcomb, again, whose goals were enough to overcome the red-hot Hokies.

Saturday also marked the annual Genna Wiley Memorial Match, honoring the wife of former Wake Forest athletic trainer Steve Wiley who passed away from breast cancer just days after Wake Forest men’s soccer captured the 2007 NCAA championship. At both the women’s game Friday night and the men’s on Saturday, the teams wore pink jerseys emblazoned with “Wiley” that were auctioned off to raise funds for breast cancer research and prevention.

In a hotly contested and physical first half, it was a Virginia Tech mistake that opened the scoring. Forbes stole the ball away from Hokie Sivert Haugli and ran one-on-one to the goal. He then chipped the ball over the keeper for his first goal of the season. After the goal, Forbes slid in celebration.

A usual starter that alternates between left-back and left-wing, Forbes had been out due to injury since the loss against Liberty on Sept. 28. Forbes provided a welcome spark off the bench in both halves, routinely winning back possession and utilizing his rapid acceleration to create space on the wings.

Wake Forest entered the halftime break up 1-0, with possession about even and another upset in sight. Yet, a Virginia Tech equalizer complicated the path to victory — Hokie forward Danny Pugh lifted a shot past freshman keeper Trace Alphin.

However, the level score lasted just minutes. Soon thereafter, sophomore Hosei Kijima blew past his defender, reaching the end line before cutting the ball back onto his left foot. The Japanese winger then played a low cross that evaded the Hokie defense and found Holcomb, who stroked the ball into the far corner for his eighth goal of the season and the 27th of his Wake Forest career. Holcomb’s goal brings him into the top-10 all-time scorers list for the program. It’s a stellar mark for the senior.

The Deacs extended their lead in the 77th minute when Roald Mitchell continued his scorching scoring form with his third goal in four matches. Junior Takuma Suzuki placed a defense-splitting through ball which Mitchell latched onto before executing a finish that continued an excellent debut season for the New Jersey native.

As time ran down, Tech’s frustration became palpable, culminating with a series of fouls. Those sparked a pushing match in the 85th minute that resulted in three Virginia Tech bookings and one for the Demon Deacons. 

The victory against Virginia Tech continues a four-match winning streak for the Deacs, and further demonstrated the team’s growth and ability to upset big names. Throughout the season, the Demon Deacons have struggled more in games in which they dominate possession than in those that are more open. Wake Forest’s pace — coupled with excellent long passing — has the potential to catch opposing defenses sleeping. Losses against Liberty and VCU were particularly frustrating to Wake Forest Head Coach Bobby Muuss’ team, as the Deacs dominated possession, but were ultimately were unable to break down the deep defending opposition.

Yet, as victories against then No. 5 ranked Pitt and now against No. 5 ranked Virginia Tech demonstrate, the Deacs are dangerous. These successes suggest the potential for an NCAA tournament run.

Muuss himself alluded to this in his post-match notes.

“That’s the best Virginia Tech team that we’ve played since I’ve been here,” Muuss said. “That’s a team that makes deep NCAA tournament runs. We approached this game like we had an NCAA Tournament game at Spry.”

Wins over teams like Virginia Tech will be the victories needed to progress, both in the upcoming ACC tournament and in the NCAA tournament. The Deacs continue the trek towards the tournaments with an away match against Boston College on Oct. 23.