Men’s soccer falls on road, dominates at home

The No.10 Demon Deacons made a return to their winning ways


Evan Harris

Junior midfielder Oscar Sears (No.10 in pink) celebrates with the crowd after scoring his second goal on the night against Boston College.

Evan Harris, Photography Editor

The past week for Men’s Soccer proved to be an up-and-down slate, as the Demon Deacons once again split a pair of games. Oct. 11 saw Wake Forest fall 2-1 to William & Mary, but the team bounced back on Oct. 15 against Boston College with a comforting 3-1 victory.
No. 10 Wake Forest suffered a loss against William & Mary away in Williamsburg, Virginia. Despite outshooting their opponents 14-5, the Demon Deacons were not clinical enough in the final third. The defeat marked the team’s second in a row, following a 2-0 road loss against No. 5 Syracuse.
The first half ended in a 1-1 draw, both teams going back and forth offensively. The Demon Deacons were aggressive from kickoff, creating two goal-bound chances within the first 10 minutes of regulation. The Tribe reciprocated Wake Forest’s early intensity, winning two corners just moments later—both were defended well by Demon Deacons.
In the 18th minute, a shot fired by sophomore forward Roald Mitchell from afar was quickly saved and followed up with a William & Mary counter. A shot from outside the penalty box found its way in the back of the net giving the Tribe a 1-0 advantage in the 19th minute.
Wake Forest rallied in the 33rd minute with sophomore midfielder Ryan Fessler netting a brilliant freekick from outside of the box, drawing the match at 1-1. Towards the end of the first half, Wake had one more breakthrough chance on goal off of junior defender Jahlane Forbes’ corner kick, which forced a save from the William & Mary goalkeeper.
At the beginning of the second 45, the Deacons maintained their first-half energy, making several attempts on goal. A high missed shot off of a corner kick attempt by Forbes in the 50th minute opened the action. Wake Forest created chance after chance, featuring shots from sophomore forwards Babacar Niang and Roald Mitchell in the 59th and 60th minutes, respectively.
Junior midfielder Chase Oliver also got involved, forcing a diving save from the goalkeeper after Oliver fired a shot from inside the 18 just two minutes later.
In the 70th minute, the Tribe’s keeper recorded his fifth save following another attempt on frame by Niang. Despite being under constant pressure by the Demon Deacons, William & Mary managed to break the deadlock in the 75th minute of the match, squeaking by with a 2-1 decision.
With the defeat in Williamsburg and thus a pair of successive losses, a win against an unranked Boston College team at home was needed by the Demon Deacons.
Adorned in pink jerseys, the players dedicated the match to the commemoration of Genna Wiley, wife of former Wake Forest athletic trainer Steve Wiley, who passed away of breast cancer three days after the 2007 soccer program won the NCAA championship. The team raised $5,090.32 for the Breast Care Center Patient Support Fund at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. The stands were filled with a medley of black and pink— a compassionate scene that certainly added to the lively atmosphere needed for an important, in-conference matchup.
As the match kicked off, Wake Forest established dominance in the midfield early, creating two chances on goal within the second minute by junior and sophomore midfielders Colin Thomas and Ryan Fessler. The Boston College defense was caught on its back foot from the start, allowing a flurry of attacks from the Demon Deacons to break through their backline—freshman defender Vlad Walent and sophomore midfielder Leo Guarino both contributed heavily down the left and right sides.
Possession was a one-sided affair in the first half of play, with the Demon Deacons moving the ball from the back efficiently. Offensive opportunities continued to open up for Wake Forest, with nine of their 15 shots coming in the opening 45 minutes. Despite the one-sidedness of the first half, both teams entered the locker room scoreless.
The second half presented a closer contest. Boston College regained lost footing and began to cause problems for the Wake Forest defense. The game quickly became more and more of a physical battle, with both teams combining for 16 fouls and seven yellow cards in the second period.
Boston College retained much of the possession early on, creating chances consistently for the first time in the competition. A frustrated Wake Forest team was constantly under threat for the first 25 minutes of the period, having to constantly thwart the Eagles’ attacks. Wake Forest allowed six unanswered shots, two of them forcing saves by sophomore keeper Trace Alphin. For a moment it seemed the momentum was with the away side, as each chance came closer and closer to the back of the net.
The course of the game shifted after a moment of brilliance in the 73rd minute by midfielder junior Colin Thomas. Assisted by a sweeping ball from junior defender Jahlane Forbes, Thomas buried the ball into the top right corner, breaking the deadlock. The stands erupted – Wake Forest had finally made a decisive move late in the game.
The Demon Deacons were reinvigorated by Thomas’ heads-up play and began to ramp up the offensive pressure in an emphatic fashion. Boston College was a shell of itself compared to the beginning of the second half, retreating and defending against confident counters from Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons now asserted a high press that would last till the end of the game, slipping balls through the Eagle’s defense with the same ease they did in the first half. The Eagles began to express their frustrations through three more yellow cards and numerous fouls. The Deacons kept the intensity, with junior midfielder Oscar Sears netting another goal in the 80th minute.
Weaving through defenders, Sears curled the ball into the left-upper 90 from just inside the box, scoring a wonder goal to further cement Wake’s hold on the contest. Just three minutes later, freshman phenom Vlad Walent sealed the deal, slotting home a one-on-one attempt to make it 3-0. Spry was electric.
In the dying embers of the game, Boston College managed to poke in a consolation goal off of a Wake defensive error, so the Demon Deacons were denied a clean sheet in the 88th minute. At the sound of the final whistle, Wake Forest improved to 11-3-0 overall and 4-2-0 in conference play.
The No. 10 Deacons made a return to winning ways following two losses on the bounce. The game marked 200 career wins for head coach Bobby Muuss. Wake Forest Men’s soccer next sees ACC action when they travel to Charlottesville to play Virginia on Oct. 22.