After a disappointing midweek result, the No. 7 Wake Forest Demon Deacons men’s soccer team (1-1) got back on track with a 2-0 victory over the Bucknell Bison (0-2), who are still looking for their first win, and goal, under interim coach Matt Brown. The scoreline would potentially suggest that Bucknell were in this game at any point, they were not. Wake had firm control of this game at all points, never faltering as they held the ball and moved around the Bison with ease, seeing out a comfortable home result.
Wake would get their hands around the game early, dominating possession and winning the ball back on the counterpress frequently whenever they did give it away. The first huge moment of the game was in the 8th minute, when David Wrona took a ball inside from a lovely inside layoff from Kyle Holcomb, and fired one that Bennett Schwartz was able to get down to, with Wrona gathering his own rebound and laying it off to Omar Hernandez in the center of the area, who would look to place one into the side netting, but would bash it off the post. Only two minutes later Wake would open the scoring, when Kyle Holcomb would take a pass from Omar Hernandez and carry it from the 35 yard line into the top of the area, before laying it off behind him for Hernandez, who would drive one low and hard past Schwartz to give Wake the lead.
The Deacs seemed to have a multitude of chances to double their lead, but in the first half none would find its way into the goal. Nico Benalcazar looked to have a free header from a Jake Swallen corner, but he could only let it glance off of his head to Prince Amponsah, who was unable to make meaningful contact with it at the back post. Kyle Holcomb would wind up with plenty of chances to register his first goal of the season in the first half, with the first being a long range blast from beyond the D at the top of the area that rattled off of the outside of the post. He would get another chance moments after his first, receiving a through ball into the right side of the area from Garrison Tubbs, rounding the keeper, but finding himself unable to get his hips around the ball, blasting his effort from a tough angle into the bricks behind the goal. His biggest chance came in the 23rd minute, as he collected a poor pass from Bennett Schwartz and would carry the ball beyond the last defender with Omar Hernandez with him, but he would try to lash the ball across goal and see his effort saved by Schwartz, saving the keeper some blushes.
Bucknell were not totally without chances in the first half, as Alex Clarke would nearly put a huge wrench in the plans for Wake when he received the ball deep in Wake territory on the right flank and dribbled beyond Jahlane Forbes and into the box, but his left footed effort dipped harmlessly wide. Wake would continue to control the game for the remainder of the half and behind to bring in some of their reserve players, getting a couple of chances here and there before the buzzer would sound for halftime, with the Deacs ahead and comfortable, but looking for another goal to give themselves a greater margin for error.
Coming out of the half, they nearly found this goal in the 51st minute, with Hosei Kijima sending a ball on the ground into the box and Holcomb yet again finding his way around Schwartz, but his effort, which appeared to be a ball back across the box, was sent backwards and cleared away by MJ Kuczura. Only a minute later, Holcomb would finally find his goal, with Prince Amponsah sending a ball up the field to Jake Swallen, who would lay it off to Holcomb, who would put the ball down with his chest, take the ball beyond Gabe Dahlin and coolly slot it past Bennett Schwartz and give Wake a 2 goal cushion.
From here, Wake would play with their foot on the ball for the rest of the game, not creating many incredible chances, but just suffocating Bucknell until the clock would run out. Wake would almost make it 3 on a thunderous strike on the half volley from Chase Oliver off of a cross from Jahlane Forbes, but his strike was saved by Schwartz to keep the deficit to 2 for the Bison. That would be the last big chance of the game for either team, as Wake would see this one out to move to 1-1 on the season.
As for man of the match, I feel as if Omar Hernandez was the best player on the field, with his little touches and ability to play with the ball and facilitate for his teammates shining through brightly today, alongside his ability to find himself on the scoresheet. I also think that special mention should be made to a few other players for some exceptional performances, with David Wrona, Kyle Holcomb, Jake Swallen, and Jahlane Forbes warranting mentions in this section for their contributions, especially Forbes and Wrona whose great efforts may be forgotten because they failed to find themselves on the scoresheet. Wake’s defense also deserves a shoutout, as they were able to keep a clean sheet in this one, their first this season and since their 0-0 draw with then No. 1 Clemson this past April.
With Wake now hoping to fully turn the corner after a strong performance on Sunday, they’ll move onto a home game against Cornell on September 4th at 7:00 before starting their ACC schedule with a trip to Louisville on September 10th.
(Editor’s Note: Chris continues to pump out the strong soccer content!)