The NC State men’s soccer team put on a dominant performance against the High Point University Panthers on Tuesday, Oct. 12 at Dail Soccer Field, walking away from the match with a 4-0 victory. From the beginning whistle to the match’s final moment, it was all Wolfpack all the time.
The win elevates the Pack’s record to 6-4-2 (0-3-2 ACC) and will serve as a crucial morale boost for the squad, which is surely glad to be back at home after a challenging three-game road trip that saw NC State go 1-1-1. A break from conference play with a match on its home field was just what the Pack needed to get back into the swing of things.
The NC State offense dominated the Panthers’ (4-4-2, 2-0-2 Big South) defense in the first half. The Pack managed to maintain possession in scoring territory for the majority of the first half. Some close calls by freshman midfielder Yaniv Bazini and senior midfielder Alex Hernandez kept High Point on its toes early on.
“You know it just keeps getting better and better,” said head coach George Kiefer. “The point at Syracuse, that’s a tough place to get a point. We got nothing here but it helps us prepare for the next one.”
The dominant NC State offense finally was able to capitalize on its optimum field position in the 32nd minute when senior forward Kuda Muskwe scored the first goal of the game, assisted by Bazini.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be honest,” Muskwe said. “I’m just happy to be able to contribute to the team’s success. That’s all I ever want to do, just being present in any way, accepting to be in the right place at the right time.”
High Point wasn’t given much time to get back on its feet and regroup after that first goal, with Hernandez tacking on another goal, assisted by Muskwe and senior defender Pepe Garcia in the 39th minute. The game went into halftime with NC State up 2-0.
Even with the high volume of offensive pressure early on, junior defender Kendall Edwards impressed in the first half of play. From putting a quick stop to multiple High Point counter attacks to finding open teammates upfield to maintain dominance in possession, Edwards was a key factor in how the Pack was able to get out to an impressive early lead.
“Today we just wanted to focus on getting the things right, in small details, in the lines of keeping people connected.” Edwards said. “Whenever we do that, it makes it easy for them.”
Despite the Panther offense trying to keep up with NC State’s energy, the Pack continued its offensive momentum early on with the second goal for Muskwe on a corner kick in the 63rd minute, assisted by freshman midfielder Noe Cabezas.
“All year long, Kuda has been a key to what we’re trying to do,” said Kiefer. “It’s good to see him playing [in a way] that just keeps getting better and better.”
High Point only had five shots over the course of the night, with three of those and a shot on the goal in the second half. This last-ditch offensive effort by High Point failed to put them on the board and avoid a shutout. A last-minute goal by junior defender Pablo Pedregosa in the 85th minute extended the Wolfpack’s lead to four.
NC State will be back in play on Friday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. in Raleigh against Virginia, where the Pack will hope to find its first conference win of the year against a struggling Cavaliers team.