Life doesn't really get any easier in ACC women's soccer.
After a taut 0-0 draw against Florida State and an easy 4-0 win over Miami, the Wake women's soccer team posted perhaps its best performance of the year: a convincing 3-1 win over #18 Duke last night. Riley Ridgik, Caroline Wootten, and Katie Stengel scored for the Deacs.
Duke started the game on the front foot, and the Wake players had to be experiencing flashbacks to the extremely physical Florida State game, where the Seminoles exerted near-constant pressure in the midfield. Duke's attacking midfield and forwards also looked dangerous on runs through the middle and out wide, elevating the fear level.
Still, it was Wake who struck first in the 26th minute, when Caroline Wootten got her head to the ball just ahead of Duke goalie Ali Kershner near the top of the 18 yard box. Kershner wasn't able to hold on to the ball, which rebounded straight to Riley Ridgik, who calmly struck the ball with the outside of her foot past Kershner and several Duke defenders into the lower corner for her fifth goal of the year. Ridgik's fifth goal matches the second-highest Wake goalscorer from last season, and brings Ridgik's career total up to eight.
Duke wouldn't go away without a fight, however, as the Blue Devils leveled early in the second half. Laura Weinberg collected a poor clearance from a cross and fired through traffic into the lower right corner to knot the score at 1.
However, the goal seemed to snap Wake out of a period of lackadaisical play. The Deacs midfield of Ridgik, Sarah Teegarden, Ally Berry, and Annick McBreyer began to suffocate Duke's passing lanes and dribbling space. The results told on the other end, where Wake was able to sustain pressure for extended periods, culminating in a turn and shoot by Wootten that rebounded off the crossbar. Undeterred, Wootten finished her next chance, after a good effort by Stengel to save the ball on the touchline and find Wootten at the penalty spot.
Forced into playing more attackers, Duke's problems in the midfield became aggravated, and the question was when rather than if Wake would add to the total. Ridgik had a goal waved back due to a controversial offsides decision on Stengel (who had arguably interfered with the play by obstructing the goalie), but Stengel settled matters late with the clinching goal. On yet another Wake counter-attack, Berry was able to hold the ball at the corner of the 18 yard box before playing a diagonal ball into space. Stengel, Kershner, and a Duke defender all arrived simultaneously, but Stengel was somehow able to flip the ball up over the pile. The ball trickled into the far post almost in slow motion for 3-1. All that was left was for Wake keeper Aubrey Bledsoe to add to her personal highlight reel by making a point-blank save on a Duke shot in the dying moments.
The Deacs move to 7-0-1 on the season and 2-0-1 in the ACC. They now embark on a three-game road trip, starting at #21 Maryland this weekend before heading to Syracuse and Boston College. The next home game is October 13 against newly-anointed #1 Virginia.