If a man's home is his castle, as the old saying goes, then the men of Wake Forest soccer have become accustomed to defending their Spry castle from invading teams. Against the Akron Zips, they kept their fortress safe from a loss, picking up a 2-1 win over Akron and making Spry a pretty tough place to play.
Both Wake Forest and Akron are two of the most successful in terms of sending players to MLS, which is definitely a double-edged sword. With both schools sending players like Jared Watts, Chris Duvall, DeAndre Yedlin and Darlington Nagbe to the pros in just the past few years, there has been an exodus of talent leaving the collegiate system on their way to higher levels. The downside of that is that those players are no longer around - meaning the colleges have to find a way to get their younger players up to speed and fast. The Deacs and the Zips are both starting fairly youthful lineups this season, but this matchup was still a pretty potent one.
Right out of the gate, the Demon Deacons dominated offensively, outshooting the Zips 9-2 in the first half. With so many good chances falling just out of reach for Wake, there had to be a lucky break that would go their way. In the 32nd minute, that opportunity arose when junior Michael Gamble and sophomore Ian Harkes combined in a textbook give-and-go to set Harkes up with a wide open chance on goal and he did not miss, putting the Deacs up 1-0. Five minutes later, junior Ricky Greensfelder would double the Deacs' score as he beat the keeper on the left post with assists from sophomore Tane Gent and freshman Jon Bakero to make it 2-0 Deacs. The score and shots aside, it would be hard to understate just how impressive this Wake Forest offense looked in the first half, as they continued to break through the Zips' defense time and time again.
Just minutes into the second half, Akron would finally get on the board when Richie Laryea would catch Alec Ferrell in a misstep to make it 2-1 in the 50th minute. This one mistake would be the only one that Ferrell would make in this match as he picked up five saves in the night. The backline in front of him, consisting of Kris Reaves, Kevin Politz, Sam Fink and Hunter Bandy, has found their groove over the past few games and has done a remarkable job of stepping up and making key plays, Fink especially, to keep Ferrell out of danger as much as they can. For a lineup that's fairly new to playing together (and in college at all), this group of four gets the job done and definitely did so against Akron.
In what was definitely the play of the game, and an early contender for the play of the season, Ferrell faced off against midfielder Victor Souto on a penalty kick in the 70th minute, with Akron just a shot away from tying the game up. Making the stop of his life, Ferrell blocked Souto from scoring and seconds later, blocked the rebound to keep the Deacs' lead alive. Akron wouldn't threaten Ferrell and his backline again, with Wake going on to win 2-1.
Defending the Spry Fortress isn't going to become an easy job any time soon with in-state rivals Duke coming into town on Friday, October 3rd. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. for the seventh annual Genna Wiley Memorial Match.
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