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Recap: Wake Men’s Soccer Handles George Washington

Heading into a colossal ACC clash on Saturday, the Deacs took care of business in the midweek with a 3-0 victory.

NCAA SOCCER: DEC 11 Men’s College Cup National Championship - Wake Forest vs Stanford Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a dominant performance, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (7-4-1) defeated the George Washington Colonials (3-9-2) by a 3-0 score at Spry on Tuesday night. It was a game the Deacs were expected to win handily and did so, with the visitors never finding any rhythm in the game the Deacs ran them off the field. Wake’s press was on full display in this game, although it benefited significantly from some very sloppy play from the Colonials, and the Deacs felt as if they were on one constant attack for the whole game. They played the game on their terms for the full 90, and although GW was able to weather the storm for a bit after giving up the first goal, the floodgates opened and they were swept away by the tide. This result marks a third straight win for Wake as they look to keep surging back to the heights they were expected to reach at the start of the season. The Colonials on the other hand are 1-8-1 in their last 10 and haven’t scored in any of their last four games. It wasn’t high end competition for Wake, but they did what they were supposed to do and kept their momentum going back into ACC play.

Wake started out firmly in the driver’s seat, putting the GW defense under pressure from kickoff and working the ball through their low block pretty easily. In the third minute, Colin Thomas would give a ball inside to Kyle Holcomb at the top of the area, who would make a lovely turn to get by Hrolfur Sveinsson and into the GW box. He held off Aaron Kronenberg as he looked to place one into the bottom far corner, but his effort couldn’t quite curl into the side netting, and Hosei Kijima could only lunge for the ball as it rolled wide of the post. Another chance would come in the sixth minute, as Hosei Kijima was able to pick up the second ball from a blocked through ball he played to Kyle Holcomb, getting outside of his defender Kronenberg and looking to smack one on goal, but dragging it wide of the far post.

The first goal came for Wake in the 9th minute, as a weak header away by Carter Humm in the middle of the field was trapped by Jake Swallen and played to Omar Hernandez, who turned marvelously to get by his defender and play a ball through to Kyle Holcomb. Holcomb would cut back inside of defender Ryan Cedeno to take a right footed shot toward the far post, one that would be saved by Justin Grady, but the rebound popped right out to Hosei Kijima, who popped it into the open net. It was Kijima’s first goal of the season, and it gave Wake a lead they deserved early in the game, making what was already going to be an uphill climb for the Colonials that much steeper.

Wake continued to possess the ball and keep GW hemmed in their end after the goal, and nearly added another from a set piece in the 23rd minute, when Nico Benalcazar and Kyle Holcomb both found themselves running completely free in the center of the area on an Omar Hernandez free kick. Benalcazar didn’t make solid contact with his header though, and his glancing effort would flash across the face of goal and go wide for a goal kick. The Colonials would get what wound up being their best chance of the game soon after in the 28th minute, with a Joshua Yursatis free kick going ever so slightly over the crossbar and hitting the roof of the net. The GW bench thought the ball had gone in and briefly exploded with joy, but would have to settle back down after seeing that the ball had gone over.

The game continued to be dominated by the Deacs, who would get a pair of big opportunities after the Yursatis free kick, with Holand Rula setting up Omar Hernandez at the top of the box in the 29th minute. Hernandez would flick it by Sveinsson, who got a piece of it with some part of his body, with the fans behind the goal contending that it was a hand. Hernandez would get the ball on the other side though, and he would rattle one off of the near post from close range as the Colonials breathed a sigh of relief. Only two minutes later, Nico Benalcazar would have another chance from a set piece, with another Omar Hernandez delivery finding him all alone in the box, but Benalcazar couldn’t generate enough power on his header, nor direct it toward a corner, with Justin Grady claiming it easily. In the 42nd minute, as an ugly backpass from Alhaji Turay was stripped by Roald Mitchell, who found himself running free down the right flank. He would cut it back to Chase Oliver, who would take a couple of touches at the top of the box and square it to David Wrona on his left, who would look to curl it just inside the far post, but would see his effort flutter just wide.

The second half continued in much the same way that the first half proceeded, although Wake didn’t blitz the Colonials in the opening minutes as they had in the first 45. Instead they were much more calm and measured on the ball, holding possession and controlling the flow of the game rather than being as direct as they were in the first 10 minutes of the first half. There would be some controversy around the 60th minute, as a ball would deflect off of the arm of Prince Amponsah in the penalty area, with the Colonial players screaming for a handball. However, the official did not rule it to be a penalty, which appeared to be the fair call based on where Amponsah’s arm was and how it deflected up into it. Ultimately, whether it was right or wrong, the official didn’t call it and the game would continue with the Deacs up a goal.

Wake would start to create more chances in the last 25 minutes as they pushed the pace and tried to put away this GW team that, despite their performance, were not really out of the game yet. From a corner kick in the 65th minute, Prince Amponsah would head the ball from the back post back into the six yard box where Garrison Tubbs was waiting, but would sky his close range header. Only 2 minutes later the Deacs would have their best chance of the game, with David Wrona sending a dangerous ball in from the left flank that would land right on the foot of Kyle Holcomb just outside the six yard box, but Holcombe would smash it over substitute keeper Duncan Wegner and his goal, missing a big opportunity to double the lead. The chances would keep on coming, with Julian Kennedy nearly scoring his first college goal in the 75th minute at the end of a ridiculous solo run where he found his way through three defenders on the right flank, dribbled into the area, and would sneak it by Wegner, but would hit the near post with his left footed effort that seemed destined for the net. He would have another opportunity to register his first college goal in the 77th minute when Roald Mitchell would get on the end of a long ball from the left back and send it across to Kennedy, who from the left side of the goal would mishit the ball and end up sending it backwards into a GW defender.

Finally, a minute after the second Kennedy chance, a goal would come for the Deacs. A very nice give and go between Hosei Kijima and Roald Mitchell would send Kijima down the right flank all alone, with Kijima flashing the ball across and Hrolfur Sveinsson deflecting it into his own goal to double Wake’s lead in the 80th minute. It was a cruel turn of fate for the Colonials but a deserved second goal for the Deacs, and the third would follow soon after. In the 83rd minute, Tareq Shihab would receive the ball on the right flank with no one near him, crossing it into the area where it was deflected to Chase Oliver at the top of the box. Oliver would take a touch to settle it and rip it on frame, smacking it off the post. Shihab would claim the rebound and send it across the six yard box, where Roald Mitchell would be waiting at the back post to tap it into the empty net. That made the score 3-0, and that would be the final score as the buzzer sounded, with Wake deservedly coming out with all three points.

It was a thorough beating by the Deacs that likely should have ended with them scoring more than three, but they’ll be happy to come out with the result that they got. Man of the match could be a couple of players, with Omar Hernandez and Hosei Kijima coming to mind as worthy candidates, but I think Roald Mitchell was Wake’s best player in this game. He held the ball up incredibly well, pressed feverishly, set up his teammates with some good chances, and added a goal of his own to ice the game. It was a great performance from the freshman, who appears to be finding his feet in the college game after taking some time to adjust. Overall, it was another great team performance from the the Deacs that sets them up nicely for a monumental ACC clash this weekend.

The Deacs return to action on Saturday, hosting the #5 Virginia Tech Hokies in the Genna Wiley Memorial Match, with kickoff set for 7:00.