17 seconds - an incredibly small amount of time in the grand scheme of things, but tonight, 17 seconds was all it took for the Wake Forest men's soccer team to score two goals on their way to a 4-0 blowout of Howard. Freshman Jon Bakero, who has been a real force for the Demon Deacons this year, etched his name once again in the Wake Forest stat sheet with two goals, while Hunter Bandy and Ricky Greensfelder added their own as they went on to earn their second straight win.
Despite outshooting Howard 13-3 in the first half, it took 15 minutes in for the Deacs to get on the scoreboard - and when they did, it was none other than Bakero, who capitalized on assists from Bandy and Jacori Hayes to beat the keepers and make it 1-0 for Wake. After that, the offensive effort seemed to stall; despite Howard posing a minimal threat, the Deacs just couldn't seem to get anything going.
The second half, however, was a different story. At the 47th minute, Bakero again chipped one in, assisted by Greensfelder to make it 2-0. Just 17 seconds later, the fastest in school history, Bandy, helped by Bakero and Greensfelder, added another and it was 3-0. Fast feet and a little team cohesion were enough to give the Deacs that offensive firepower they needed to take control of the game.
The game wasn't over quite yet, though, as just 30 seconds before the final whistle, Greensfelder connected on a pass from Philip Parker to make it 4-0, earning the Demon Deacons their second shutout of the season and their second straight win at Spry Stadium. "We wanted to start off strong and finish strong and I think that’s what we did," Kevin Politz said. "We started the second half especially well, getting two goals and it was good to go into halftime with a lead so I think we did well."
One thing that's been said about this team all season - and rightly so, given the 13 freshmen on the roster - is just how young this Demon Deacon squad is. Though there have definitely been some growing pains, the positives to such a youthful lineup have shown themselves as well. "We know we’re a young team but we know we can play with any team regardless," Politz said. "I think we can compete with any team in the NCAA. I don’t think being young puts us at a disadvantage. If anything, we’re just happy to be together on the field and willing to put in work."
Up next for the Deacs is perhaps their most challenging task yet - taking on #22 Virginia. Arguably the biggest rival for Wake in the ACC, the Cavaliers pose a tough test and getting past them means a better shot at making the ACC - and ultimately the NCAA - tournament. "We just need to pull out every win we can get these next four games, just push forward to get these wins and get into the tournament," Bandy said. "It starts with Virginia."