Graduate defender Jamie Smith propelled the NC State men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over the James Madison Dukes on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at Dail Soccer Field. Smith doubled his career goal tally with a pair of netted free kicks in his first scoring game since September 2019.
“Sometimes, after playing in front of a packed house, the Tuesday games can be difficult,” said head coach George Kiefer. “I thought we were really mature with our approach to the game. I thought we were able to use a lot of players. I think we made a lot of moves and kept guys fresh. And then I was really excited to see some guys that had been out a little bit, join us and do well tonight.”
The first goal of the night came in spectacular fashion when the Wolfpack opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. Smith teed up a shot from around thirty yards out and smashed it over the Dukes’ wall and under the crossbar to put NC State on the scoreboard.
This excitement was the result of a quick change of pace that occurred in the 16th minute. When a high, chopping ball trickled out from the Pack’s attacking third, junior defender Kendall Edwards was involved in a hard collision with a James Madison player. The referee charged Edwards with a yellow, the first of five in the match.
The first half was not without its clean defensive effort, though. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Leon Krapf made four saves throughout the night, keeping State ahead despite the fact that it came up short of the clean sheet. The defense in front of him also played a crucial role with ensuring that the Pack left the match with the win, blocking several James Madison shots and taking pressure off of Krapf.
Save: LeonBlock: PepeSome GREAT defensive work from these two tonight to keep JMU off the board.Wolfpack 1, Dukes 0 pic.twitter.com/TsmS7Bz6eh— NC State Men's Soccer (@PackMensSoccer) September 14, 2021
“Jamie was good at moving the ball,” Kiefer said. “[JMU midfielder Alex Krakowiak] is an excellent player at spraying things. In the second half, we got out to him a little faster, where I thought that really helped us at the start of the second half. Defensively, we were good.”
The second half brought another highlight-reel goal on the part of Smith. After a 55th-minute foul set up the Pack in prime free kick-scoring position, Smith delivered another stellar shot, curling the kick around the wall and past the keeper to double the Pack’s lead.
“In the second one, the goalkeeper left a big gap for the wall,” Smith said. “So they were decent goals, but the most important thing is that we got the win tonight, and we did.”
After Smith’s second goal, the match offered little in terms of box score action until the 81st minute when tempers started to flare. A pair of yellow cards were issued in the 81st minute to junior defender Pablo Pedregosa and junior defender Cam Murray and the Dukes and Wolfpack continued to chirp at each other for the remainder of the match.
James Madison had more to say before the final whistle blew, though. With seven seconds left in the match, the ball found its way to the top of the box, just right for Dukes defender Chay Strine to deposit a low strike in the bottom of the net. Despite missing out on the clean sheet once again in September, the Wolfpack still put on an adequate enough performance to earn the win.
“I think we learned a lesson here at 2-0, we probably could have just killed the game rather than going for the third goal,” Kiefer said.
The Pack will travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for it’s next ACC matchup. The match will kick off at 7 p.m.