It wasn’t very pretty soccer, nor was it very fun to watch, but the No. 1 nationally ranked Wake Forest soccer team advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 1-0 victory over Columbia.
The same could not be said of several other seeded teams, as: No. 8 Clemson, No. 11 Virginia, No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 13 Michigan, No. 14 Georgetown, and No. 16 VCU were all upset in the Round of 32.
The Deacs will take on the Butler Bulldogs on Sunday, November 26th at 5 PM at Spry Stadium. Butler upset the No. 16 seeded VCU Rams by a 3-2 scoreline.
Columbia has been one of the best, if not THE best, defensive team all season in the NCAA and that was on full display last night at Spry. The Lions were content to put all 11 men behind the ball nearly all night to clog up passing lanes for the more technically advanced Wake Forest soccer team.
I understand why teams continue to do this, and will continue to do it against the Deacs, but it makes for very frustrating, aggravating soccer to watch. The Deacs dominated possession of the ball for essentially the entire game, but were unable to capitalize on anything in open play.
It was not until the 89th minute that the Deacs got the breakthrough it needed when defender Michael DeShields was tripped in the box on a pretty easy call to send Wake to the penalty spot.
National player of the year contender Jon Bakero cooly slotted in the attempt to the left corner of the goal while Columbia goalkeeper Dylan Castanheira dove to the right. This set off a great celebration for Wake players on the Walter Chyzowych wall with a substantial number of students to the left of the goal.
With the goal, Bakero tied Ben Stafford for 5th place in career goals in the Wake Forest record books with 36.
Wake outshot Columbia 9-6, while holding a 6-0 advantage on corner kicks.
With the victory the Deacs improved to 18-1-2 on the season, while Columbia sees its season come to an end at 12-3-3.