The Wake Forest Demon Deacons men’s soccer team (14-4, 6-3 ACC) took care of business on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-14-1, 1-9 ACC) by a 1-0 score in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. It was the second win in a row for the Deacs, who will go to Cary on Sunday if they find a third consecutive victory. They’ll be facing a familiar foe in the semifinals tonight, as they take on the Clemson Tigers (12-5-1, 5-4-1 ACC) at Spry. The Tigers, the eighth seeded team in the tournament, defeated top-seeded Duke in the quarterfinals in Durham by a 2-0 score, securing a semifinal berth and giving the Deacs another postseason home game. With a win tonight, Wake will head back to the ACC Championship Game for the first time since the Deacs won the whole thing in Charleston in 2017. But before looking ahead to tonight, let’s look back at Sunday’s game.
The Deacs faced off with the cinderella story of the ACC Tournament on Sunday, taking on a VT team who, despite a winless conference regular season, had defeated then #11 Louisville team and earned a quarterfinal berth. They came to Spry hoping to cause another upset, but the Deacs were more than up to the challenge. Wake absolutely dominated the first half, creating chance after chance in the Virginia Tech box while giving up very little on the other end. However, they were unable to convert any of their opportunities, and the teams went into the half all square. The second half took on a different tenor than the first had, with VT repelling most of Wake’s attacks and holding on tight to the 0-0 scoreline as Wake tried to apply more pressure. In the 62nd minute, though, the Deacs would open the scoring. Roald Mitchell was chopped down while bearing down on goal, giving Wake a free kick opportunity from outside of the D. It was Omar Hernandez who stepped up, and he hit the upper 90 with his effort just moments after coming into the game, giving Wake a one goal lead. The lead wouldn’t be relinquished, as Wake closed this game out with relative comfort to advance to the ACC semifinals. There were a slew of great performances in this game for Wake, but for me Cristian Escribano was the man of the match, as he was solid on both sides of the ball, particularly in possession as an inverted right back.
Tonight, the Deacs continue marching down the road to Cary, taking on Clemson for the second time this season. Wake has played Clemson often the past few seasons, with seven matchups occurring between the two teams since 2019, and most of them have been thrilling. This will be the second meeting between these two teams this year, with the first taking place on September 24th in Clemson. It was a stunning result, as the Deacs thumped the Tigers by a 6-1 scoreline to earn their ninth straight victory to start the year and ascend to the #1 spot in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. That game started a nightmare stretch for the Tigers, who went 1-3-1 after their loss to Wake. They’ve returned to the form that carried them to a national title last season, however, as they’ve won four consecutive games, scoring eleven over that span and only allowing two. Wake has also returned to form lately, though, showing the energy that carried them to that 9-0 start at the beginning of the year. With both teams playing back at the high level expected of them, this game should be another classic chapter in the Clemson-Wake rivalry.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 at Spry, and the game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.