The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (10-1, 2-1) kept their spectacular start to the season rolling with a 2-0 victory in upstate New York, issuing the Syracuse Orange (4-5-1, 0-3) their fourth consecutive loss and extending their winless streak to 5 games. It wasn’t one of the Deacs’ best performances, but they deserved the points after getting the better of the chances and limiting Syracuse to almost no looks at the goal. This result marked a milestone for Wake this season, as the Deacs reached the ten win mark for the first time since 2017. It also marked a tenth shutout for the Deacs, which is the most they’ve managed since their 14 shutout 2011 season that saw them go to the College Cup. Wake have been resolute so far this season in the ACC, and this game was no different, and sets them up nicely to close out their road trip in Louisville next Saturday. For the Orange, it feels like another tough blow to a team that has struggled mightily since joining the ACC, having never qualified for the ACC Tournament.
In the early moments of the game, Wake’s press was getting home to the Syracuse defense, although they were unable to create any clear cut chances as a result, with the closest thing to one coming to Hulda Arnarsdottir 7 minutes in from a Sofia Rossi ball to the top of the six yard box, with a Syracuse defender stripping the ball and hitting it clear. Syracuse was then able to settle into the game and break through Wake’s press, but the Demon Deacon defense held strong, although Syracuse did nearly find themselves ahead in the 13th minute, as Koby Commandant intercepted a Sofia Rossi pass across the field, and sent in Kylen Grant, who slotted it home, but the assistant referee raised his flag to indicate offside, wiping the goal out. With neither team having much control over the flow of the game, suddenly Wake took control on the scoreboard in the 20th minute, with a Nikayla Small ball going out wide to Ryanne Brown, who would put a gorgeous early ball into the box that would land right on the foot of Hulda Arnarsdottir, who hit it on the half volley into the top right corner of the net to put the Deacs out in front with her second goal of the season, with both coming against ACC competition.
Immediately following the goal, it felt like Wake smelled blood, and would put the Orange under some significant pressure. Only 3 minutes later, Sofia Rossi would find Sophie Faircloth out wide, who would send a beautiful bouncing ball across the face of goal that Giovanna DeMarco got on the end of, but the ball was a bit too far ahead of her, as she stretched for it and could only deflect the ball wide of the goal. The game began to settle down after the 5-10 minutes of Wake having significant control, with the Deacs rotating some players in and setting up a bit deeper rather than pushing hard for the second goal. They limited Syracuse to very little for the rest of the half and created very little for themselves, and with only a couple of corners that led to little for either side in the last 20 minutes, the Deacs would head into the half up a goal and knowing that their opponents would have to chase the game. It wasn’t Wake’s best half, with some sloppy passes and turnovers, but they were happy with where they were at the break.
Coming out of the half, it was much of the same, but Wake was much more crisp on the ball. After an early chip from an odd angle and distance from Aysia Cobb off of a Zara Chavoshi turnover that went well over the bar, Wake had the better of the opportunities for the rest of the half. They would get a chance following the Grant chip, with a play starting from a Hulda Arnarsdottir turn and nutmeg, with the Icelander then finding Sofia Rossi out left, with Rossi cutting in and driving one toward the near post that Lysianne Proulx was able to get her hands to, with Arnarsdottir’s tight angle follow up effort being deflected wide by Emma Klein. Jenna Menta would get a chance in the 60th minute after winning the ball from a goal kick to Hulda Arnarsdottir, who then sent Menta in on goal, but she was unable to get a clean shot away once she got into the box as Grace Franklin was able to muscle her off the ball and block her attempt to lash at the ball.
Syracuse were not totally without chances, however, and had a good opportunity to get back into the game in the 68th minute from a Natalie Weidenbach set piece delivery that was met by Pauline Machtens on the far side of the area, who sliced it over the crossbar while all alone. She had Aysia Cobb all alone in the six yard box if she could put the ball back across, but she had eyes on the goal and, as a result, bungled an opportunity to get the Orange back in it. All hope was then taken away from Syracuse in the 74th minute when Sofia Rossi would hold the ball up and pass it back to Zara Chavoshi just inside of the Syracuse half, who would send a gorgeous ball over the defense to Shayla Smart, who was all alone on the left side of the field, with Smart chesting it down, taking another touch to settle it, and then lashing it at Proulx, who got her hands up to it but just couldn’t get enough of the ball to change the shot’s direction, as it looped into the side netting to give Smart her team leading 7th goal of the season and tie a bow on another Wake win.
The Orange at this point seemed to be resigned to their fate and offered little to challenge Wake in the remaining 15 minutes, with the Deacs almost adding a third goal in the 85th minute when Carrie McIntire putting a ball across that was popped up in the air by a defender, with Abbie Colton looking to nod it in at the far post, but Proulx was able to gather the ball before she could get her head to it. Syracuse would create a chance in the dying embers of the game, with a corner from Natalie Weidenbach being met by Mags Thornton at the front post with Kaitlyn Parks wrapped up with another player and nowhere near the play, but her header would go over the crossbar. When the final buzzer sounded, Wake were able to celebrate another big ACC road win while the Orange were sent back to the drawing board with yet another loss. With Duke, Florida State, and UVA on the horizon, Syracuse will need to see a serious shift in form if they want to have any hope of playing an ACC tournament game this season.
With another win in the books for the Deacs, there were plenty of good performances to point out in this game. It was another good performance from Nikayla Small, who is showing herself to be capable of playing at a very high level in the ACC as only a freshman. Zara Chavoshi put out a great performance today including that incredible ball for an assist on the second goal, returning to form after what was a bit of a dicey performance against Boston College. But for my money, the player of the match was Hulda Arnarsdottir, who has come alive since Wake has started ACC play, as she has found her scoring form in league play, complementing her good hold up play and ability to create as a center forward. She had some nice combinations today but also had great moments off the dribble, including a couple of very pretty nutmegs that got the Deacs’ counter rolling. These were just a few of the standout individual performances that contributed to another strong team performance for the Deacs, who continue to roll in league play, and may be gathering some real national attention with their fine form.
The Deacs will wrap up their road trip on Saturday with a visit to Louisville, with kickoff set for 7:00 PM.