It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t without nail-biting nervousness, but the No. 1 seed Wake Forest Demon Deacons won it’s second straight ACC Tournament Championship yesterday with a 0-0 (4-3 win in penalty kicks) victory over No. 6 seed Virginia yesterday at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, SC.
DEACS WIN!!! Back to back ACC Championship trophies and part two of the treble is complete! pic.twitter.com/BquC7LIhFz— Riley Johnston (@BSD_RaJohnston) November 12, 2017
The Demon Deacons were considered a big favorite headed into the game, but after a second yellow card in the 43rd minute from defender Logan Gdula took Wake Forest down to ten men , the optimism immediately vanished.
Up to that point the Deacs had managed the pace of play and very much looked the better them against the Cavaliers, but had not been able to break through with a goal.
The halftime break two minutes later provided a great chance for ACC Coach of the Year Bobby Muuss to regroup his squad and rethink the overall plan of the game.
Fortunately for Wake Forest, Virginia stubbornly and contently stuck to it’s 5-4-1 formation that saw it keep five defenders back at all times despite being up a man.
Their insistence to keep as many players behind the ball at all times allowed the Demon Deacons to continue to maintain possession throughout the second half despite being down a man and push it to overtime without too much of a threat.
After two scoreless ten minute halftime periods pushed it to 67 minutes of tied soccer while down a man, Wake Forest and Virginia went into penalty kicks.
In what brought back nightmares from last year’s National Championship game against Stanford, Wake Forest had it’s first two penalty kicks saved, while Virginia cooly slotted in it’s first two kicks to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
After a goal bought the Deacs to 2-1 after the “top of the third” (Wake kicked first in each set), Wake Forest looked to it’s ACC Championship MVP goalie in Andreu Cases Mundet to get a stop, and a stop he got, by preventing Pablo Aguilar from putting Virginia up 3-1.
In the fourth round Wake tied it up at 2 after a successful kick, and an absolutely awful penalty from Virginia that skied over the net.
This took the match into “sudden death”, where both teams were able to score in the 5th round. The 6th round proved to be the deciding round when Ema Twumasi was able to score for the Deacs and Virginia’s Nathaniel Crofts, Jr., skied another kick to set off a raucous celebration from the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest defeated Clemson 3-1 in the 2016 ACC Championship Final, and this keeps the hope alive for the Treble for the Deacs (regular season title, ACC Tournament title, NCAA title).
The NCAA Selection Show aired live today at 1 PM and Wake Forest locked up the No. 1 overall seed. It will take on the winner of the William and Mary vs. Columbia game on Sunday in Winston-Salem (game time TBD).
The most likely path for the Deacs is: Columbia, No. 16 VCU, No. 8 Clemson, No. 4 Louisville, No. 2 Indiana. Defending national champions Stanford is the No. 9 overall seed, and Wake Forest will have a chance to avenge that loss if both teams can win it’s first two matches.