The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (8-1) tasted defeat for the first time this season in their first ACC contest, losing 1-0 to the #7 Virginia Cavaliers (8-1) at Spry. It was a game that Wake took a bit to settle into, and were made to pay in the first half, and despite a strong second half, they couldn’t quite find an equalizer. The game was not exactly on their terms, and they struggled being put in a situation where they weren’t in control of the game, but they adjusted well and have nothing to be ashamed of after this performance.
Early on in the game, Wake was putting UVA under some pressure, but UVA were able to get a hold of the game pretty quickly, with Alexa Spaanstra getting an early chance from the right side of the area on the half volley that she would lash across goal and wide. Wake seemed to get more timid as UVA got more of the ball, and the press became mostly ineffective. UVA would have another good chance in the 14th minute, with Hailey Hopkins getting in behind Zara Chavoshi, but she dragged her effort wide of the near post. Wake ran out of lives in the 20th minute however, as Kristin Johnson was caught ball watching on a wonderful ball through from Lia Godfrey, sending Diana Ordonez in one on one with Kaitlyn Parks, with the UVA forward slotting it away to give UVA the lead, ending Wake’s shutout streak in the process.
Wake would start to rotate later in the half, with the second unit coming in and putting UVA under a lot of pressure, getting Wake back settled in the game. They wouldn’t get anything before the half ended, and a strange series off of a bad ball out from Kaitlyn Parks in the last minute would be the last major event of note in the half, as the buzzer sounded with Wake having a lot of work to do in the second half.
Coach Tony Da Luz made some changes to his team and his formation at half, deciding to opt for two deep lying midfielders rather than one holder, and some players from the second unit staying on the field to start. The second half started with the two sides trading a couple of decent chances in the first 10 minutes, with both of the opportunities being blocked before they could be any danger for their goalkeepers. Ryanne Brown also had a shot blocked during this span, as she got on the end of a Sophie Faircloth cutback but couldn’t get her effort over a stretching UVA defender.
Wake were still looking to have more control of the game and were putting UVA under a lot of pressure, but as they committed more numbers forward UVA would find more chances. Alexa Spaanstra would have a huge chance off of a cutback from Sydney Zandi, but would scuff her finish and watch it roll wide. Ordonez would also get a decent chance off of a cutback, but her shot would be deflected and have the sting taken out of it so that it was easily saved by Parks.
Wake piled it on late, and would get some good breaks going forward although they were unable to find clear cut chances. A flurry of corners would come for the Deacs in the last minute of the game, with the best chance coming when Hulda Arnarsdottir got her head to a Sophie Faircloth delivery to put it back into the box, where it was headed by Ryanne Brown into Kristin Johnson, who would hit it on the half volley on goal, where it was cleared off the line by Laney Rouse. Ultimately, the buzzer would sound and the Deacs would come up short.
It was a performance where UVA benefitted from being a more experienced, professional team, and saw off a Wake team that performed well, especially in that second half. My player of the match here would have to go to Nikayla Small, who I thought was the best player on the field overall for both teams, thriving both going forward and showing out especially when she dropped into a deeper role in the second half. Wake’s backline also performed quite well throughout the game excluding the goal. Alexa Spaanstra probably has the best case for player of the game outside of Small, as she was at the center of a lot of the plays where UVA created dangerous chances.
The Deacs will look to rebound on the road, as they’ll head to Boston College next Thursday as part of a 3 game road trip, with kickoff set for 7:00 in Chestnut Hill.