The NC State men’s soccer team drew with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 1-1 in a tightly-contested matchup that went to extra time at Dail Soccer Field.
For the 4-3-1 Wolfpack, drawing a Wake Forest team with 13 votes in the United Coaches Poll is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering NC State’s 1-17-4 record against the Demon Deacons entering tonight’s matchup.
“I mean, if you look at Wake, they're one of the better teams in the country at keeping the ball,” said head coach George Kiefer. “And I thought our guys did a good job… I think we finally have good depth where we have guys that can handle the ball in every spot. So you just have to trust and they have to be brave, and want to get on it. And I thought they were brave.”
The first half of the matchup was characterized by evenly matched trading of blows, with the two teams taking seven total shots in the period. The teams drew a combined nine fouls before the end of the half while graduate defender Jamie Smith, senior forward Ivy Brisma and Wake Forest’s Garrison Tubbs all drew yellows in the opening 45.
NC State did well to slow down the Wake Forest attack in the opening period, taking control of the game’s tempo early. The Pack excelled at handling the Demon Deacons’ press, staying calm and collected on the ball. Such composure led to plenty of early chances for the Wolfpack, and despite a lowly four shots in the first half the Pack practically lived in Wake Forest’s defensive third.
After a sluggish start to the second half, things quickly escalated in the 71st minute. First, senior forward Kuda Muskwe got on the end of a Pack corner kick and his shot rebounded right to senior midfielder Alex Hernandez, who put it away. The goal was the first of Hernandez’s Wolfpack career.
“I feel like it’s a team goal,” Hernandez said. “We all built up together. [It was a] very good team goal. Of course, it was my first goal but I put that in for the team [first]. We work hard. We came out with a point.”
Hernandez originally came to the Pack last season as a transfer from Appalachian State after the school’s men’s soccer team shut down.
“Yeah, it was great,” Kiefer. “And again, it was unfortunate at App State, you know, closing the doors on men's soccer… now he's here starting, scoring against Wake Forest. That's a pretty neat story. Yeah, no, I don't love living off transfers. I'll evaluate those. But in that situation when they shut the program down, I thought it was good for him to do that.”
However, the Demon Deacons responded immediately, scoring in the 72nd minute off a Chase Oliver goal that was assisted by Jahlane Forbes and Omar Hernandez.
Despite having the ball on Wake’s side of the field for much of the latter second half, NC State couldn’t get its last few shots to fall in regulation and took the Demon Deacons to extra time.
A draw isn’t the ideal finish for the Pack, but it certainly isn’t one to be upset with either. Wake Forest has been a formidable opponent for the Wolfpack in the past, and coming away from any match against the men’s soccer powerhouse with more than zero points is a positive.
“It’s a good point, let’s face it,” Kiefer said. “Wake Forest, good team. So it's a good point. Could we have scored the second? Probably. Could they have? Probably. So I thought it was a good college soccer match.”
NC State will hope to rebound back into the win column in its upcoming match against Longwood on Tuesday, Sept. 28. The match is scheduled to take place in Farmville, Virginia at 7 p.m. and will be a great opportunity for the Pack to turn the momentum earned in this game into a win that will boost the team morale as it continues to hunt for its first conference win.