A winner could not be found in 110 minutes in this top five matchup, as the No. 4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons drew 0-0 with the top ranked Clemson Tigers at Historic Riggs Field on Friday night. The Deacs moved to 11-2-2 on the season and Clemson moved to 12-2-2 on the year. With this result, Clemson retained its top spot in the Atlantic Division at 4-0-1 in the ACC in the spring, while the Deacs moved to 3-0-2, setting Clemson up with a chance to claim the division next week on the road against the Louisville Cardinals, while Wake will need a win on the road against the Syracuse Orange and a loss for the Tigers in Louisville to have a chance at the automatic NCAA tournament bid. This game saw some injury returns, with David Wrona and Garrison Tubbs both coming back into the lineup after being injured earlier in the spring, both coming off the bench. However, the Deacs also saw Jake Swallen taken out of the game with an apparent ankle injury, not returning to the match afterwards. Although it lacked goals, there was definitely some intrigue in this one.
Early in the game, Clemson’s press was smothering Wake. The Deacs couldn’t find a way out of their half in the first 5-10 minutes, committing a few ugly turnovers along the way. Callum Johnson nearly got the tigers off and running with 30:30 to go, with his left footed effort from the top of the area being pulled just wide of the post. A minute later Hamady Diop connected with a deep cross from Johnson 12 yards out, but his effort was swallowed up by Cole McNally.
After this period of Clemson dominance, however, Wake was able to start keeping possession and create a couple of chances of their own, with the closest to a goal being a curling effort from distance from Omar Hernandez with 25 to go in the half, but it ended up curling wide. For the rest of the half, Wake controlled the flow of the game and the possession, rarely looking uncomfortable against Clemson’s press, although they couldn’t find any clear cut chances in the first 45 minutes. Clemson couldn’t either, and the sides would go into the half at 0-0 with Wake having the better of Clemson going into the half, but neither team really stamping their authority on the game.
As dusk turned to night in Clemson, the chances began to fall for both teams. Mohamed Seye connected with a Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador cross, but his glancing header would go wide of the net. Another chance came to Seye off a turnover that the broadcast didn’t catch, with him receiving the ball from Hamady Diop and taking a shot that would be blocked by Prince Amponsah at the top of the box, but fell back to Diop who couldn’t react to the ball and ran it into McNally, who collected. Only seconds later, Omar Hernandez would get the ball in his own half in the middle of the field and send a long ball in behind the Tiger defense, with Chase Oliver finding himself one on one with George Marks, but his poke across goal curled back away from the post and out for a goal kick, as Kyle Holcomb also looked open for a chance at the back post, although it would have been a difficult ball to get across under pressure.
From there, although the game was very even, the bigger chances would fall to Clemson. Mohamed Seye would get a chance just outside the right side of the six yard box, which he somehow could only hit backwards, scuffing a big chance. Isaiah Reid would get a chance minutes later, getting on the receiving end of a cross from Justin Malou, but his powerful header would go over the bar. Mohamed Seye had another chance from a corner, but couldn’t make good contact on a free header almost inside the six yard box, jumping up and smacking the crossbar in frustration. Wake would not be without chances, however, as Oscar Sears would receive a ball over the top from Prince Amponsah on the right side of the box, but he couldn’t direct his effort on target, blasting it over the crossbar. Another headed chance would come to Seye off a cross from Charlie Asensio, but he would pop it over the crossbar. It was the last chance of regular time and the two teams would go into OT.
It was clear to see that the Deacs were absolutely exhausted, and it showed in a pair of OT periods where the goal was mainly to survive and get a result. And ultimately, very little would happen in either period. A Quinn McNeill header that McNally easily claimed with 5:45 to go in the first OT period was the closest either team would come to scoring, with neither team creating any real chances, leading to a 0-0 final score.
It was a decent performance for the Deacs, with some good and bad spells throughout the game, but neither team was really able to get anything going forward, excluding Clemson trying to capitalize on Wake’s lack of height in defense with deep crosses that would lead to decent shots, but not really big chances. As for man of the match, there were some solid shifts put in for the Deacs, but my pick has to be Prince Amponsah. Both defensively and in possession, Amponsah was great this game, breaking down the Clemson press with smart passes dribbles, also contributing some good tackles and some blocks.
The Deacs will return to action next Friday at 7:00 PM at Syracuse.