Men's Soccer: Irish Oust Deacs 4-2 in Sweet Sixteen

Disclaimer: The ND video stream was very,would very bad. My best guess is that the cameras weren't synced, so when they would switch to a different camera the play flip forward or backwards in time, sometimes upwards of two minutes. It made watching the game incredibly frustrating.

Gonna keep this fairly quick. When the Irish and Deacs played in November in Winston, the Irish won 3-1. After that game, I thought Wake played better and got unlucky, and that I wouldn't mind having a chance at revenge in either the ACC or NCAA Tournaments.

Fast forward a month, and revenge was at hand. But like they did in the first game, Notre Dame took advantage of what chances they had and Wake was a bit sloppy in the final third. The result: an identical two goal victory for the Irish.

Michael Gamble had a monster game for the Deacs, flashing his speed and timing early to nip in for chances in the box. His work paid off when he was able to bundle a cross from Sean Okoli past Irish goalie Patrick Hall for a 1-0 Deac lead.

It was pretty much all downhill from there. Both Irish first half goals were of the lucky variety. Patrick Hodan answered Gamble's goal almost immediately by scoring from an extremely acute angle on the touchline that somehow beat keeper Andrew Harris at the near post (the goalie should never, EVER be beaten at the near post). The Irish surged into the lead with 4 minutes left in the half, but I couldn't actually tell you what happened because the choppy video stream was particularly wonky. Officially, the goal was credited as a Tolani Ibikunle own goal, and the incredibly pro-Irish announcers seemed to think that Notre Dame was incredibly fortunate with the result.

The Deacs regrouped at halftime, and actually knotted the score fairly early in the second half. A Gamble corner kick found Ibikunle, who redeemed his earlier mistake with a glancing header into the far post for 2-2.

Sadly, the wheels came off. The aggression that Wake had showed abandoned them, and Notre Dame began surging forward with menace. This push resulted in two goals in rapid succession: a goal off a ball played in over the top of the Wake defense after a partially cleared corner kick found Evan Panken, who may or may not have been offsides but very definitely beat Harris with his shot. Not long thereafter, ACC Offensive PoY Harrison Shipp latched onto a cross in the box to thump another past Harris.

And the Deacs' season ended with a whimper, as they lacked any sort of creative play to break down the Notre Dame defense in the last 15 minutes.

Overall, it was an extremely disappointing effort, but I've found this to be an extremely disappointing team. I didn't see a game all season that I felt Wake was the less talented team, but offensive playmaking was definitely this team's bugaboo all season. Naturally, Vidovich's response over the past few games was to move offensive lynchpin Jared Watts from central midfield to central defense and neuter his impact on games. The move definitely failed tonight, as Watts was caught out of position on Shipp's goal. Given that Sam Fink had a stellar first three months in central defense... I really have no idea. The Deacs finished at 10-6-5.

Anyway, I want to show my appreciation for this year's seniors. It was a pleasure to watch Luca Gimenez torture defenders, Chris Duvall fly up and down his sideline, Tolani Ibikunle score some clutch goals and play great defense, Ross Tomaselli to lock down the midfield, Andy Lubahn to inspire, Kovi Konowiecki to... well Kovi didn't play much, but he did score against Syracuse this year, so there's that. And Jared, who did everything that we could've asked, plus quite a bit more that we didn't ask. Red cards and all, there's no doubt that Jared Watts is one of the top 10 players to ever don a Wake uniform. We will miss all of you. Thank you.

Go Deacs.

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