The No. 24 Wake Forest Demon Deacons played down a man for more than two-thirds of the game, but that didn't stop them from defeating the No. 17 VCU Rams by a score of 2-1. 2012 Second Team All-ACC forward Sean Okoli was issued a red card in the 24th minute of action at Spry Stadium and the Deacs were forced to play a man down for the remainder of the game. To make matters worse, Jared Watts was also issued a yellow card at this time. It's worth noting that at the time the red card was issued, the Deacs were already losing 1-0 after VCU's Dakota Barnathan scored on a header in the 19th minute of play.
Most teams would quit if they fell down 1 goal on the scoreboard and then 5 minutes later fell down 1 man on the field, but not this Deacons team. On the contrary, this team fought back and demonstrated supreme resiliency and outshot VCU 20-8 after Okoli was removed from the game. 15 minutes after Okoli was removed from the game, Andy Lubahn crossed the ball to Tolani Ibikunle, who created his own shot and evened the contest at 1. Sam Fink scored the go-ahead and game-winning goal in the 54th minute when he put back a Jared Watts header off the post. There would be no more goals scored and the Deacs held onto their 2-1 lead.
I was only able to catch the final 10 or so minutes of this game, but what I watched I could not have been more proud of. The Deacs were out-hustling and out-executing VCU despite being a man down. Again, this was a VCU team that was ranked No. 17 in the nation headed into the contest. The Deacs could have accepted defeat to a top 25 team and non-conference opponent, but they chose excellence and they chose to display guts. Head Coach Jay Vidovich was eloquent and accurate after the game when he said, "I'm very proud. I'm happy for (the players), also. I think they're starting to realize they can be a quality team," Vidovich went on to say "This evening, I think they found that they're winners, so that's the bottom line for me."
The Deacons (5-2-0, 3-0-0 ACC) will look to keep their undefeated ACC record alive when they take on the No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels, who is coming off a 1-0 loss to William & Mary, on Saturday night in Spry Stadium at 7 p.m. This is a team the Demon Deacon faithful can get behind and support. I strongly encourage everyone who can attend this game to do so and support our players. After such a gutsy effort they deserve it. That effort made me damn proud to be a Deacon.