Women’s soccer goes 1-1 in ACC play

The Demon Deacons easily handled Miami but fell short in Chapel Hill


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

Defender Kristin Johnson elevates over the competition to clear the ball away from Wake Forest’s goal. The sophomore was everywhere versus Miami, as she assisted on both scores for the Demon Deacons.

Aaron Nataline, Sports Editor

In a pair of ACC matches, Wake Forest Women’s Soccer went 1-1 this past week to bring its overall record to 9-4-2 and its ACC record to 3-4. The Demon Deacons defeated Miami 2-0 at home but could not topple the No. 2-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, where Wake Forest fell 1-0.
Wake Forest welcomed the Miami Hurricanes to Spry Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 9 for an afternoon match that continued conference play. The Demon Deacons looked to regroup after dropping an away game versus Duke, and they did just that by dominating this game on both sides of the pitch.
The tone was set early, almost as if the Wake Forest squad came into the match with twice the energy that Miami did. Right from kickoff, the Demon Deacons applied pressure to the Hurricanes’ wingers, overwhelming them on short-lived counters. Sophomore defenders Zara Chavoshi and Laurel Ansbrow were constant disruptors whenever Miami attempted to flip the field. Early on, this meant possession appeared one-sided, favoring the Demon Deacons.
To say Wake Forest made efficient use of the advantage in possession time would be a severe understatement. Four eager shots were launched within the first fifteen minutes in a match that saw the Demon Deacons generate plenty of opportunities to penetrate the goal.
The spacing of the midfield unit allowed for those neutralized Hurricane attacks to be quickly converted into potential scoring opportunities. Freshman midfielder Caiya Hanks stood out as a player constantly leading the way for a defensive stop to be fed into the attacking third quickly. As the game moved into the 20th minute, her spacing within the midfield allowed her to send a crosser to the forwards picking apart the Miami defense around the penalty box. Eventually a clinical through pass set up junior forward Liv Stowell to fire a low but speeding shot at the Hurricane goalkeeper, who managed to recover from a slip and make a diving deflection out of the well-timed shot. While this led to one of the Demon Deacons’ five corner kicks of the first half, Wake Forest was unable to capitalize.
That shot on goal may have woken up Miami, as from there the Hurricanes began to win some possessions back. They were more often able to send forward passes in the latter phases of the first half, but Wake Forest could count on their fullbacks to keep the opposition from putting together any build-up plays around the box. Defensive play was most secure here, for the Hurricanes did not tally a single shot in the first half.
Eleven first-half shots for the Demon Deacons made for a more attention-keeping battle on the other side of the green. The tenacity of Wake Forest’s offense in pouring on shots paid off in the 31st minute when they took the lead 1-0.
Spacing paid dividends with this score, as sophomore defender Kristin Johnson was able to send the ball to the sideline on a one-touch pass to defender Taryn Chance. The quick acceleration of the play allowed the freshman Chance to outrace a Hurricane defender down the far sideline as she looked to set up yet another scoring opportunity. Her through pass sliced through the six-yard box and past two defenders to the cutting Liv Stowell, who chipped the ball directly from the air into the top of the goal despite the goalkeeper being inches away.
The energy of the first half carried into the next, as by the 68th minute, Wake Forest led 21-0 in shots. The Demon Deacons’ second goal unfolded along the baseline in front of Alumni Hill, much to the viewers’ excitement.
Forward Liv Stowell was once again involved, setting the play in motion by sending two defenders the wrong way at the top-right corner of the penalty box before sending a back pass along the sideline to defender Kristin Johnson. Before a Miami player could even catch up with her, Johnson sent a pass skipping to midfielder Giovanna DeMarco at the edge of the 6-yard box. Without even turning to face Alex Wood and her slippery cut into the box, Demarco pushed the pass forward to the freshman forward Alex Wood. Wood dived to propel a shot into the top-right corner and improve the lead to 2-0 in the 72nd minute.
After the second goal, Wake Forest was able to park the bus and allow for smart defense to close out the game. In addition to the shutout, the Demon Deacons closed the match with a 28-0 shot advantage. While the victory was satisfying, the next game against nationally ranked North Carolina proved much tougher.
Wake Forest traveled to Chapel Hill to face off against the No. 2 ranked Tar Heels on Oct. 14. The evening match presented a prime opportunity for Wake Forest to impress against a formidable ACC rival. While the Demon Deacons could not come away from the game with a win, they surely brought a battle to Dorrance Field.
Fierce defensive pressure characterized that battle on Wake Forest’s side, as they stifled the North Carolina offense into their lowest number of shots on the year with ten. Wake Forest also had to endure tough defense as well, but the team smartly sided with patience on frequent pack passes to allow for an effective counter to develop.
One of these counters pushed the Demon Deacon attack forward inside the seventh minute, with sophomore defender Zara Chavoshi leading. She eluded defenders from her team’s own penalty box to midfield, where she set up sophomore midfielder Emily Morris to make a soaring forward pass. Junior forward Liv Stowell collected the ball in stride and was able to shake multiple Tar Heel defenders in the penalty box before firing a shot. While the ball was deflected, the well-orchestrated attack early in the game gave Wake Forest some control of the first-half pace.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Parks played a crucial role in keeping North Carolina scoreless going into the half. In the 34th minute, a Tar Heel forward on the back end of a counter brought the ball into Wake Forest’s 6-yard box, but sophomore midfielder Malaika Meena was able to disrupt her dribble to force the ball to another Tar Heel with a worse angle at the goal. Parks deflected the shot from close range, effectively frustrating North Carolina as they were shut out in the first half for the first time in ACC play this season.
Unfortunately for Wake Forest, a home-field penalty allowed North Carolina to break open the scoring just four minutes into the second half. With the score favoring the Tar Heels 1-0, there was renewed urgency for a score from the Demon Deacons.
The best chance at one came in the 60th minute after Wake Forest forced their first corner kick of the game. While a defender for North Carolina was able to send it sky-high with her head, freshman forward Hannah Johnson miraculously tracked its descent and was able to get a header out of it. While the shot did not land true, Johnson had managed to notch the first shot on goal for the Demon Deacons.
While Wake Forest was able to build up more and more hopeful attacks as the match stretched on, the Tar Heel defense refused to allow a goal. The Demon Deacons fell 1-0, but they tested the No. 2 ranked team in a way that no other opponent has been able, especially in ACC play. Now holding an overall record of 9-4-2, Wake Forest next takes on Virginia in Charlottesville on Thursday, Oct. 20.