Tired of the doom and gloom surrounding the Wake revenure sports? Try watching the #7 ranked women's soccer team, off to an undefeated 5-0-0 start to the season, including a come-from-behind win at #15 Portland yesterday afternoon.
Coach Tony da Luz has built up a deep roster with a blend of experience and youth, and the full effects were on display yesterday. After being dominated in the first half (da Luz said after the game that the Deacs were lucky to only be down 2-0 at halftime), the Deacs came out firing in the second half. Riley Ridgik scored 90 seconds into the period on a long shot into the top corner, and freshman Caroline Wootten capitalized on the Pilots' attention to all-American Katie Stengel to calmly net the tying goal minutes later. Senior Ally Berry - the Nike Invitational's Most Outstanding Offensive Player for her work in this game and the Deacs' 1-0 win over Washington on Friday - completed the comeback with the winner off a failed Portland clearance with about 15 minutes remaining.
The women's team under da Luz has been the most consistently successful program in the past 15 years, making every single NCAA Tournament in that time, as well as a surprise run to the Women's College Cup two years ago. With most of the players from that team returning, the Deacs have relatively high expectations upon them, especially given the brutal nature of the ACC (which routinely has half of the top 10 teams in the country at any given point). While I know that some people scoff at soccer in general for its pace of play, and women's soccer even more so, this is a team worthy of support: outstanding academics (four players, including Stengel, made all-academic ACC last season) mixed with athletic success, and very little handwringing, drama, or negative atmosphere.
Sadly, there is hardly any atmosphere at all for the women's games; while the men's team has roaring crowds (including proof that Wake students DO turn out to support teams during the nonconference schedule, Ron Wellman) for its home games, the women never come close to filling up Spry. So, if this has intrigued you at all, I'd like to extend an informal invitation to the next women's soccer game; as a reward for the dramatic win in Oregon yesterday, the Deacs get to face #2 Florida State on Thursday at 7 p.m. to open ACC play. I encourage any and all to show up and cheer for the Deacs; they just might give you something worth cheering for.