The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-2, 2-2) dropped a tough ACC road contest against the Louisville Cardinals (7-2-1, 3-1) by a score of 2-1 in overtime after an incredibly entertaining contest. Both sides had strong periods in the game, with the Cards happy to play at the frenetic pace that the Deacs were setting, and after a second half where the Cards were the more dominant of the two sides, they found a late goal to take the lead. Although the Deacs showed great fight to get back into the game and tie it up, they were overcome late in OT to send them home with their first road loss of the season.
The game started as a very back and forth contest, with both teams getting forward as soon as the other’s attack ended, and with incredible speed. Julia Simon almost opened the scoring inside of 3 minutes for the Cards with a shot across goal from the right side of the area, but her daisy cutter cut across the frame and just wide of the post. Wake had a big chance of their own in the 14th minute as Jenna Menta would cut past Anouk Denton on the right side and send it across for Malaika Meena, who made a great turn inside but didn’t get enough on the shot, as it was blocked on the way to the goal by Ravin Alexander and gratefully swallowed up by Gabby Kouzelos. Wake would get a couple more decent looks in the next couple of minutes, with the biggest of them being a dangerous 25 yard strike from Nikayla Small in the 16th minute that Kouzelos was just able to claw wide. Louisville got a big chance in the 19th minute, as a one-two with Julia Simon sent Nina Nicosia in on goal, but Kaitlyn Parks made a big save to deny her the opener.
In the next 25 minutes, the two teams continued to play fast, but with fouls starting to disrupt the rhythm of the game and the defenses settling in, no real big chances came to either side. Louisville put in a couple of dangerous balls, mostly from set pieces, as did the Deacs, but in the end the two sides would go into the half deadlocked at 0, with the game still well in the balance and neither team being able to say that deserved to be up at the half.
Louisville came out of the break and looked the much better side, however. An awkward deflection off of an attempted clearance by Wake set up Delaney Snyder in on Parks, but Kristin Johnson was able to come back and put her under pressure, forcing her into a weak shot at Parks’ chest. Louisville continued to have the better of the half for its remainder, plugging away at Wake’s defense while locking things down in their own end. Neither team had too many great chances in those next 30 minutes, but Louisville were clearly in control, although Wake were showing the ability to be a danger in transition. However, Louisville would be rewarded for their good play in the 80th minute, as Julia Simon was able to get the better of Giovanna DeMarco out wide and send a ball in for Savina Zamborini, who would put her effort on frame and see it deflected even further into the far bottom corner by Lyndon Wood to put the Cards ahead.
Wake would not say die though, as with only three and a half minutes left they found the equalizer. Sophie Faircloth would take a corner that would be headed back out to her, which she then sent back in to be cleared away at the front post again. It only got as far as Sofia Rossi, who would lash one on the half volley and rattle the crossbar, with the rebound deflecting out into the center of the box, where Hulda Arnarsdottir would settle the ball and calmly stroke it into the back of the net to tie the game and give Arnarsdottir her third goal in as many games. It was a gut punch for the Cards, who after taking a late lead though they might have been out of the woods, would give one up against the run of play, and be forced into overtime.
The overtime period went back to the back and forth flow that we saw in the first half, until suddenly Louisville would find themselves with a late opportunity, with Nina Nicosia having the ball in the middle of the field and catching Wake ball watching, and sending in Emma Hiscock behind Kristin Johnson and in on Parks, who would do well to make a save on Hiscock’s first effort, but she would reclaim the ball and roll it in to give the Cards a dramatic OT winner.
It was a disappointing way for the game to end, especially after the fight Wake showed after going down, but it was likely the fair result after the 98 and a half minutes that were played. My player of the match would have to be Julia Simon, who looked like the most dangerous player on the field nearly every time she had the ball for the Cards, and gave the Deacs a lot of trouble defensively, registering an assist in this game. This isn’t to discount some solid Wake performances, especially those from Jenna Menta, who I thought had one of her better games in a Wake shirt in this one, Kaitlyn Parks, who had some big saves, and Hulda Arnarsdottir, who continues her torrid ACC form with yet another goal. In the end, a tough result but not a terrible performance, and something the Deacs can use as motivation going into this week as they return to Spry.
Wake returns to action on Thursday night against the Miami Hurricanes at Spry, with kickoff set for 5:00. The Deacs then play at home again on Sunday, hosting the #19 Virginia Tech Hokies in a huge game for their tournament hopes, with that kickoff also set for 5:00.