The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-0) kept on rolling Thursday night with a 3-0 win over the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds (2-3) and yet another dominant performance. The Deacs’ press was a lot more pragmatic in this contest, but the Greyhounds were still unable to make attacking inroads, with their counter breaking out a couple of times but ultimately stalling in front of the Wake goal, while the Deacs peppered the Greyhound net and got the goals they needed to get a dominant win.
Wake got a few big chances early, with the first one falling to the senior night honoree Hulda Arnarsdottir, who would get on the end of a long ball from Sofia Rossi over Nicole Rivas, but her effort from the right side of the goal would go right into the bread basket of keeper Paige Sim. Only 3 minutes later, in the 11th minute, the Deacs would find the opener, with Nikayla Small sending a ball in behind Gillian Borton that Shayla Smart would get on the end of, and then take around the goalkeeper Sim, and then tuck it neatly into open net. It was a great ball from Small and a lovely touch from Smart that would give the Deacs their first, but not last, of the game. A minute and a half later, the Deac lead would double, with Hulda Arnarsdottir turning over Sarah Mirr in the middle of the field and finding Shayla Smart on her left, who would lash one on her left foot into the roof of the net. Smart’s second capped off an early Deacon flurry and gave them clear control over the game, even with almost 80 minutes to go.
Nikayla Small would get another chance for the Deacs in the 19th minute, ripping one from top left of the box, but her fizzed effort was tipped over by Paige Sim. Following this, Loyola was able to get out of their own half for a time at least, but were unable to find any clear cut chances in front of goal, with Zara Chavoshi and Sophie Faircloth snuffing out the majority of their attacks before any shots could result from them. Wake then regained full control, creating another couple of chances, and an interesting non-chance, with a ball through for Arnarsdottir finding its way all the way to Nikayla Small on the right side of the box, with Arnarsdottir waiting at the penalty spot, Small’s ball across the six yard box flashed across without intervention. With Wake clearly back in the driver’s seat, halftime came with Tony Da Luz’s team feeling comfortable about their place in the game.
The second half begun much in the same way that the first ended, with Wake creating chances and Loyola largely stuck in their own half. Malaika Meena had an early chance, as she got onto the end of a neat ball from Shayla Smart on the right side of the box, but she couldn’t get her foot around the ball for a good shot, blazing it high and wide. Another chance would fall to Arnarsdottir off of a scuffed headed clearance by the Loyola defense, which she trapped, turned, and ripped on the frame, but Sim was able to get down to it and catch. A third goal would follow soon after for the Deacs, with Nikayla Small finding an incisive ball in behind again for Shayla Smart, and Smart wrapping up her hat trick with a tight finish into the far post side netting. Loyola would get a half chance after winning the ball high up the field to Sarah Bayer, but she would fall while shooting and put her effort well wide of goal.
There would be a couple more chances for Wake in this game before the final whistle blew, with both falling to Jenna Menta, who would first get onto a loose ball in the box with 20 minutes to go, but her lunging effort would go just wide of the post. With about 2:30 to go in the game, another chance would fall to Menta off of a long ball over the top, with Menta getting ahead of her defender, but ultimately dribbling into the goalkeeper. With no other occurrences of note taking place after that chance, the final buzzer would sound, signifying another win for Wake, and another dominant shutout win to add to their collection.
Player of the match is rarely an easy award to give out, but in this game Shayla Smart made it simple, with the Junior making life a nightmare for the Greyhounds all game, punishing them with three composed, professional finishes. This isn’t to discount other performances from the Deacs, however, with Nikayla Small, Zara Chavoshi, Sophie Faircloth, and Malaika Meena all having performances of note in this game, with Small showing up on the scoresheet twice for her efforts.
The Deacs will look to stay hot in Boone on Sunday, with the Mountaineers of Appalachian State awaiting them for an in-state rivalry matchup slated for a 6:00 PM kick.