The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-2) were roundly defeated by the Louisville Cardinals (3-2) on the road, in all likelihood moving out of the United Soccer Coaches Poll for the first time in the last 90 weeks that it has run. It was another performance where the Deacs were just so sloppy, and gave away too much and didn’t create enough to get back into the game. For the Cardinals, it is a jumping off point for their season, letting them get back on track after a lukewarm start. With Wake now back to square one with their team, it will be very telling how they respond in their next few matches with all the hype around the team now evaporating.
One of the keys to this game was Wake being able to escape the Louisville press and break that first line to alleviate pressure on their backline and create chance for themselves. In the first 25 minutes, they were absolutely smothered. Wake were hemmed in their own end for the majority of that span, and Louisville were able to cash in on their hard work with a goal in the 18th minute by one of the best strikers in the country, Aboubacar Camara, smashing one at the near post and over Trace Alphin off of a feed from Pedro Fonseca, who got the ball after Jahlane Forbes misjudged a ball in the air to give him space down the flank. It was a deserved goal for the hosts, who had been dominant and threatening to that point.
Wake should have been right back in it, however, when a ball from Hosei Kijima into the box was tapped on by Omar Hernandez to Kyle Holcomb, who slotted it home in the 26th minute, but the assistant on the far side put his flag up for offside, when it was very clear on the replay that Holcomb was well onside. It was a very tough break for Wake, and the drizzle turned to a downpour when Sander Roed put a great ball in on a set piece to Josh Jones only two and a half minutes later, who had a free header from the inside of 12 yards that he put away easily with Jake Swallen lagging behind him. It was a frustrating moment to say the least, with the Deacs back in the game in one moment and then almost out of reach in the next. Wake would finish the half a bit stronger, although they were unable to have anything to really show for it, but with Louisville’s press then dying down it felt as if they would score a goal to pull themselves back into the game at some point. The halftime buzzer sounded and the Deacs had work to do.
Coming out of the half, wake were the much better team, and seemed to have a goal coming on the horizon after a flurry of chances in the first ten minutes, With Kyle Holcomb testing Detre Bell early on a shot from a tough angle that Bell was able to pound into the ground and over the crossbar on the bounce. A massive chance fell to Nico Benalcazar from a corner, with Prince Amponsah sending the ball into the center of the area from the right edge of the six yard box off of the initial delivery from Jake Swallen, and Benalcazar saw his free header from 8 yards sail wide of the post. Another chance came to Wake off of an Omar Hernandez free kick, which was saved by Bell but only out into the box again, where Wake had players seemingly lining up for it, but no one could get a touch before it was cleared.
With Wake making great attacking inroads and with a goal seemingly on the horizon, they would shoot themselves in the foot in the 55th minute, as Prince Amponsah made a bad error in his own box, turning it over to Pedro Fonseca, who he then ripped down to give away a penalty, and take a red card for his troubles. Fonseca promptly buried the penalty, and put Louisville out of sight. Wake controlled the possession the rest of the way as they tried to chase the game. Roald Mitchell came into the game and nearly found a goal for the Deacs, getting on the end of a Chase Oliver through ball, but his stretching effort would roll just wide of the post. Louisville almost put the icing on it, with a turnover by Julian Kennedy in the middle of the field being picked up by Matt Walters, who would send Brandon McManus in on goal, but he dragged his effort wide of the post. After a few more minutes, the final buzzer would sound, and the Deacs would go back into the locker room after suffering another shutout loss.
It is tough to say that any individual player for Wake had a good game, although several had some good moments. Really, the team were just thoroughly dominated in those first 25 minutes, and all of the players did not look great over that stretch. It was another workman’s shift from Hosei Kijima, and Chase Oliver showed some moments, but generally the Deacs were not great in this one. And although that disallowed goal could have changed the complexion of the game, the Deacs did not play well enough in this game regardless, and Louisville punished them for it. My man of the match for this one is Pedro Fonseca of Louisville, who set up the first goal and won and scored the penalty for the second. He was very active throughout the game and pulled the strings for the Cards, creating some solid chances that they were mostly able to take advantage of.
With the Deacs now likely out of the top 25, they’ll need to reset and respond well to the new energy around the team. They’ll go up against the current No. 15 team in the country Pittsburgh, coached by former Wake boss Jay Vidovich, who are coming off of a week where they dropped a game to No. 19 Akron and steamrolled No. 4 UNC. Kickoff is set for 8:00 on Friday at Spry.