After a scoreless first half against a gritty Butler team, the number one ranked nationally Wake Forest soccer team turned in a brilliant second half performance that featured sensational goals by freshman Brandon Servania and senior Jon Bakero to send the Demon Deacons to its third consecutive Elite Eight.
Wake Forest improved to 19-1-2 on the season, while Butler finishes the year at 14-5-2. Head coach Bobby Muuss improved to a ridiculous 55-7-7 record as head coach of the Demon Deacons with the win last night.
While Wake Forest attacked the net more in the first half than it did in the round of 32 win over Columbia, the Deacs were unable to net a first half goal for the third straight game. At the half the Deacs had 5 shots compared to 3 from the Bulldogs.
This game was a far cry from last weekend, as Butler showed that it was at least game to not sit back and let Wake Forest attack at will. The game still featured a rather dominating stat line for the Deacs, but I give Butler credit for at least attempting to push forward and not just park the bus for the entire 90 minutes.
Ultimately the Deacs were the far better squad and that showed in the stats and final scoreline, but it was an entertaining open pace of play for a lot of the game.
Both keepers were active in the first 45 and provided great saves to keep the scoreline at nil headed into the break.
The second half featured the ruthless Wake Forest attack that fans have grown to know and love, showing an all-out assault on the goal en route to 14 shots (approximately one every three minutes).
This aggressiveness paid off in the 52nd minute when Brandon Servania received a ball from Ema Twumasi just outside the penalty box. The freshman demonstrated excellent control and executed a beautiful turn with the Butler defender on his back to get space and fire an absolute rocket into the top right portion of the net.
Butler keeper Eric Dick played well all night, but probably misjudged the ball and where it was headed, as he was left on his feet while the ball whistled in. I don’t know for sure if he thought it was headed over the crossbar or if he just knew he couldn’t get to it, but from the angle of the replay I thought a dive could have possibly caused a deflection.
Wake Forest continued to push forward in seek of a second goal that would end the game and it was rewarded in the 86th minute when a great through ball to freshman Omir Fernandez resulted in a deflection to Twumasi, who had a fantastic no-look leave right to Bakero.
Bakero fired at the net and it took a deflection off of a Butler defender in the box and ricocheted in past Dick. This sent the players and crowd into a frenzy and locked up the Deacs third straight Elite Eight appearance.
Now the Demon Deacons are on to what will be the biggest game of the college soccer season up to this point—-a date with the two time defending champions Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal defeated Coastal Carolina 2-0 last night in Palo Alto and will head to Winston-Salem for a 7:00 PM affair on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinal have eliminated the Demon Deacons in each of the past two seasons, including a heartbreaking penalty kick win in the NCAA Championship game last year.
Stanford is 15-2-2 this year and has not lost since September 23rd, a 2-0 defeat at Saint Louis. The Deacs have not lost since September 5th, a huge 2-1 upset at Spry at the hands of Georgia State.
If you live in the Winston-Salem area then you absolutely have to get out and support this team. The game should be fun to watch and these teams quite frankly do not like each other. The Deacs are out for revenge and will look to break through the frustrating style of Stanford, which is to sit back and try to force penalty kicks, pretty much no matter the advantage it has over the opponent.
The winner of this matchup will earn a trip to the College Cup, which will take place December 8th-10th in Philadelphia.