Sadly, no Taiwanese animation is available for this article.
Some of you may not know this, but the men's and women's soccer teams have scrimmages throughout the spring. Ostensibly, they are little more than excuses for additional practice time and the simulation of game situations, although they tend to be much closer to actual matches than their (American) football counterparts.
Here, then, is a brief synopsis, of the two women's games that I attended. I also caught a few minutes of one of the men's games, but it was raining, and I'm not that dedicated an unofficial beat writer, so this update will focus more on the women's team.
***** 3/22: Wake Forest 3, UNC-Greensboro 1 *****
Wake had something of a bare-bones roster for its spring games. Usually, coach Tony da Luz will give as many minutes as possible to returning players for developmental reasons, but with the large number of departures and some key players injured, the Deacs were fairly short on subs.
This didn't really matter against a lackluster UNC-G team that had signed a new coach earlier in the week.
Taylor Waters got the Deacs off to a very strong start, pouncing on an uncleared cross in the early going to give Wake a 1-0 lead. Waters was used as a rotation player last year, but she was one of the more impressive Deacs this spring; she should be a starter in the midfield next season.
Also impressive was Sarah Teegarden, who has the most un-Wake-like trait of being excessively physical in her tackles (this is very much a good thing, provided no one gets hurt - one of the big problems that Wake has had against the elite ACC teams is a lack of physicality). Teegarden was all-freshman team in the conference last fall, and if she continues to play as well as she has she should be a contender for an all-conference team spot this season.
Generally, the Deacs controlled possession but missed the final pass in the Spartan third of the field, but the UNC-G goal was on its only chance of the night near the end of the first half. One Spartan (I apologize... I wasn't taking notes, so I have no idea who) pounced on an errant pass from a Wake defender and thumped a 30 yard diagonal shot straight into the top corner. It was positively ZLATAN-esque in audacity and execution, and it left Wake keeper Sara Small (or any other goalkeeper on the planet) no chance of making a save.
Eventually, the Deacs pulled through. Caroline Wootten used her speed to latch onto a through ball midway through the second half and converted. Riley Ridgik, playing less as an out-and-out striker and more of a forward holding midfielder, had a couple opportunities missed. Defender Jenna Romano finished the game by channeling her inner Andrea Pirlo on a free kick for the final goal, by which I mean almost exactly this:
Definitely looking forward to her taking free kicks next year.
***** 4/6: Duke 1, Wake Forest 0 *****
This game took place at BB&T Field out in Bermuda Run, and mostly what I remember is that it was cold. It was largely uneventful - Duke consistently outplayed Wake for the first hour of the game, with the ball mainly staying in Wake's half of the field as the Deacs were unable to alleviate pressure.
Duke's goal came on one of the few chances where the Deacs did get forward. A ball forward to winger Malinda Allen (I think) barely beat the offsides trap (truth be told, I thought she was off, and the linesman missed a call later in the half where she was definitely off by about 2 yards, so I wonder if he was just having a really bad day) and found destroyer-of-worlds Kelly Cobb 1-on-1 with the goalie. Cobb was able to dribble past Small and tap in for the only goal.
Of greater interest, the last 20-25 minutes of the game, the Deacs seemingly came to life - again, this was with a short bench, so conditioning seems to be good. At this point Duke was unable to clear, and the Deacs had numerous chances, including a couple shouts for penalties after both Kendall Fischlein and Katie Dry were tackled hard by Duke defenders in the box (in Dry's case, it appeared as though she became concussed and did not return to the game... hoping the best for her). Fans of top European club sides (Barca, Bayern, and Dortmund in particular are noted for using it) will surely recognize the "hunt" mentality of immediately pressuring the ball after a turnover and winning it back quickly with numbers. The Deacs used this strategy to great effect during this period; personally, I think it's a very encouraging sign moving forward, even if it didn't yield a goal against the Blue Devils. If the Deacs can effectively use this tactic for prolonged stretches instead of as a last-ditch effort at the end of games, they should be in very good shape.
***** Odds and Ends *****
First thing's first: The women's team has officially announced its incoming class of 9 players. They are:
Goalie Lauren Preston (Winter Park, Fl)
Defenders Monreau Devos (Grand Rapids, Mi) and Ally Haran (Linden, Mi)
Midfielders Claudia Day (Birmingham, Al) and Maddie Huster (Cincinnati, Oh)
Forwards Casey Brown (Orlando Fl), Sarah Medina (Miami, Fl), Kahla Seymour (Reston, Va), and Pilar Torres (Oceanside, Ca)
Not listed: top 15 recruit Peyton Perea, but as Rob so kindly pointed out while I was going into conniptions, that's because she's a junior right now. I r smrt.
In any event, these incoming students have massive shoes to fill for the departing senior class, the most accomplished individual and team class in Wake women's soccer history.
In happy news, Katie Stengel was called up to the US senior national team for its recent two-game set against China. Although Katie didn't play (or even make the bench), it's still an honor and illustrates that the future is bright for her.
Similarly, Stengel and Aubrey Bledsoe were both called up to the U-23 national team, where both have received playing time. Stengel recorded a goal and two assists - including the game-winning goal against Norway - and Bledsoe started the middle of three games in the Six Nations Cup, only allowing a PK goal in a 2-1 victory over Sweden.
I hope to have a short men's update posted when the team announces its incoming freshmen class. Until then, have a nice spring, and go Deacs!