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Head Coach da Luz achieves milestone in Deacs' victory

Shirt drenched in sweat. Storming up and down the sidelines. Barking at the referees. His heated exchange with the official resulted in a yellow card. It did not matter that the game was deep in the second half, his Wake Forest women’s soccer team up three goals and the field full of second stringers. It did not matter that he was on the precipice of history. He did not stop for a second, not even to smile. He kept his intensity the entire game. That’s just head coach Tony da Luz’s style.

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

A smile slowly cracked after the final whistle. In his 15th season as the Demon Deacons head coach, da Luz captured his 200th career victory in a dominating Wake Forest win over Clemson 4-0. He became only the tenth coach—and second in a women’s sport—to win 200 games at Wake Forest. He joins men’s soccer coach Jay Vidovich and field hockey coach Jennifer Averill as the only active coaches to achieve this milestone.

“I’m definitely proud; 200 wins is a big achievement in the ACC. There is only one coach who has been [in the conference] longer than me, and in order to stay in the ACC and have success, you have to be doing something right.” da Luz exclaims with a wide smile, “I like that we have been super consistent from year to year, we have been to the NCAA tournament every year since I have been here. It’s just a consistency thing here and a culture that we have on our team.”

From the opening whistle, the Demon Deacons (8-3-1) (3-2 ACC) controlled the ball and dictated play against the Tigers (5-6-2) (0-5 ACC). The midfielders aggressively pushed up the ball on the sides and looked for the cross into the middle.

In the 28th minute, after several near goals, midfielder Ally Berry fed a picture-perfect cross to freshman Jennai Davidson who punished a header into the back of the net for her first career goal.

In the 32nd minute, defender Kim Marshall scored a header off a beautiful corner kick from Jessica Mandarich. Only three minutes later, midfielder Kristen Meier lasered a shot past the outstretched hands of Tigers goalie Hunter Rittgers, completing the trio of goals in a span of eight minutes.

Davidson tallied her second goal of the game, weaving through six Tigers’ defenders on a tremendous individual effort, in the 81st minute.

Wake Forest has defeated Clemson in six consecutive seasons, and three straight by a score of 4-0.

The Deacs impressive display comes as a direct response to da Luz challenging his team after a devastating loss 2-1 to Maryland at home last week. He claimed his team played at 80% and needed to be more aggressive.

But today, different story, “As far as training this week and implementing it into the game, I thought we were probably 100%,” da Luz elaborates, “I think we still, at the ACC level, have to player harder, we still have to be tougher physically.”

da Luz also emphasized the importance of scoring goals and capitalizing on their opportunities to rejuvenate a stagnant offense—tied for the lowest scoring in the ACC—that has outshot opponents 155 to 53. “We only have one player, [All-American Katie] Stengel, who wants to make an impact on the game,” he said. The offense responded, scoring more than two goals for the first time since August 17th.

Today was a huge step for the Demon Deacons in their quest to return to the College Cup. But today, Tony da Luz took the biggest step—up the ladder of great Wake Forest coaches.

Now that’s something to smile about.