In a thorough performance, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons women’s soccer team (4-0) defeated the Youngstown State Penguins (0-3) by a score of 5-0 at Spry Sunday afternoon. The Penguins were totally unprepared for Wake’s dogged press, which never faltered in the scorching heat, and were punished for turnovers and defensive miscues in their own half. The final score could have been higher than it ended up being, but the Deacs will be absolutely thrilled with their performance.
Youngstown State stumbled out of the blocks in this one, and the Deacs were ready and willing to punish them for it, hemming them in their own half for the first 15-20 minutes of play and creating a few chances, including a big chance from a bad turnover forced by Jenna Menta in the center of the box, but her left footed shot was blocked away. Another chance would come to Nikayla Small, who would find herself in on the goalkeeper after a lovely combination play between herself, Emily Morris, and Sofia Rossi, but Brooklynn Kirkpatrick was able to keep her shot out. Only moments later, in the 19th minute, Wake would find its first goal. Winning the ball after a throw-in from the Penguins, Emily Morris would play it to Sofia Rossi, who would calmly turn it, and send a looping curler over the head of Kirkpatrick and into the top right hand corner of the net for her first goal of the season.
After they finally broke through, it felt as if the floodgates had opened, and Wake would add another only 2 minutes later when Shayla Smart picked up a deflected ball from a Sofia Rossi pass that she would send through to Nikayla Small, who would see her first effort saved again, but would get up after the miss and lunge for the rebound and poke it in to double Wake’s advantage and to register her first collegiate goal. The third followed soon behind, as 4 minutes later Jenna Menta would carry the ball infield from her right wing position and lay it off to Sofia Rossi just outside of the box, who would take a pair of strides inside before lashing the ball toward the near post and watching it nestle in the bottom corner to make it a 3-0 game and register her second goal of the afternoon.
The Penguins did have a brief period where they were able to at least avoid giving the ball away inside their defensive third for a time, but were unable to really even enter Wake’s half. They would see their bad day get worse in the 36th minute when Abby Knight was whistled for a handball in the area after an Ashley Frank half volley from the top of the area hit her outstretched arm. Frank would then slot the penalty into the bottom left corner and just beyond the reach of Zeeyana Jivraj who replaced Kirkpatrick due to injury.
With that goal, the Deacs were cruising into halftime, and would return for the second half with a lineup made up primarily of reserve players. The Deacs would still control the game, although they did not have the same quality of looks that they did in the first half. They would still create a few solid chances, with Hulda Arnarsdóttir finding herself in a few good spots in the second half, but they wouldn’t find their fifth goal until the 59th minute, when Angelina Schilling was whistled for a foul in the far left side of the box on Liv Stowell, giving the Deacs a second penalty. The Penguins did vehemently protest this call, and seemed to be out of the woods when Faith Adams saw her spotkick saved by Jivraj, but the assistant referee signaled that the Youngstown State keeper was off her line early giving the Deacs a second attempt from the spot, which Kristi Vierra was able to convert for her first collegiate goal.
The Penguins were not to be totally shut out however. After registering their first shot of the game in the 71st minute, they almost found a goal 3 minutes later when a corner from Angelina Schilling landed right on the head of Maddie Root, who put her effort just wide of the goal. The Deacs should have had another one before full time, with Kristi Vierra connecting sweetly with a free kick delivery on the half volley, but Jivraj was able to dive to her left and make a big save to keep the score at 5-0.
Wake would see out the last 10 minutes of the game and register its 4th win and 4th clean sheet in 4 games so far this season, dominating a Youngstown State team that were just not able to compete against Wake’s press. Picking out the woman of the match for this game is quite easy, but that shouldn’t diminish how incredibly the Demon Deacons played throughout the field. Reese Kim, Emily Morris, Malaika Meena, Zara Chavoshi, and Sophie Faircloth all also deserve special recognition for the excellent games they had Sunday afternoon, but the clear woman of the match was Sofia Rossi. She scored 2 beautiful goals and was the main conductor for the Wake attack while she was on the field, seemingly making every move that little bit more dangerous.
Wake will return to action against Loyola Maryland on Thursday at 7:00 before traveling to Boone to take on Appalachian State on Sunday. I’d also like to add a special note here to congratulate former Wake Forest men’s soccer player Aristotle Zarris for making his television debut on commentary during this game for the ACC Network!
(Editor’s Note: Another great soccer recap from Chris!)