After beating Winthrop University Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the College of William and Mary has shifted its attention to its next foe: no. 1 Wake Forest University.
The Demon Deacons host the Tribe Tuesday night in Winston-Salem, N.C. It is the first meeting between the schools since 2006 when Wake Forest won 1-0.
“I hope that the preparation that we have undergone, not just this year, but in the careers of the players that are currently on our team, will be good preparation for this sort of game and this environment,” Head Coach Chris Norris said.
Posting an 18-1-1 record on the season has kept Wake Forest at the top of nearly all the national rankings throughout the fall. The Demon Deacon’s first loss of the season came in their most recent match – 3-2 double overtime loss to the University of Virginia in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
Tribe offense vs. Demon Deacon defense
On defense for the Demon Deacons, sophomore Ike Opara and freshman Danny Wenzel lead the way for a backline, which has secured 11 shutouts this year as senior goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald has conceded only 14 goals and compiled a 0.69 goals against average. Wake Forest has outscored its opponents 68-16 and outshot its competition two-to-one.
To combat the staunch defense, the Tribe will send forward a trio of strikers, including junior Andrew Hoxie, junior Price Thomas and sophomore Alan Koger, who have combined for 22 of the College’s 36 goals this season.
“We can score goals against anybody,” Norris said. “We are going to try to put them under pressure by being good on the counter and making them feel as if when they come forward they are risking a lot because we have the ability to hit them on the break and get goals ourselves.”
Tribe defense vs. Demon Deacon offense
Wake Forest boasts five first team all-ACC competitors, one second team all-ACC member and one all-rookie team player. Their roster includes five starting seniors, including forward Marcus Tracy, who is second on the team with 12 goals. Junior striker Cody Arnoux, who leads the team with 14 goals, joins Tracy up top.
“They are extremely talented,” Norris said. “They’ve got a lot of players that can hurt you by creating and scoring goals. They are very possession oriented. They are very dynamic [and] they attack very well.”
The College will put out a back line which has changed forms throughout the season. After the Tribe twice allowed four goals in a three-game span, junior Jeremy Harris moved from his midfield position back to defense. Since the addition of Harris to the right defensive flank, the College has held its opponents to one goal or less in five of the last six matches.
The sophomore central defender paring of Nicholas Orozco and Mike DiNuzzo have to play mistake free and stay at home if the Tribe hopes to keep the Demon Deacons off the scoreboard. With junior Roger Bothe securing the left side of the pitch, every Tribe defender (including sophomore goalkeeper Andrew McAdams) has started all 20 matches this season.
The play of the midfielders will decide this match.
“One of the areas that Wake excels at is transitioning from defense to attack, very quickly getting numbers forward, particularly [out] of the midfield, to create counter attack situations,” Norris said.
This will require senior captain midfielder Doug McBride and sophomore midfielder Nat Baako to control the middle of the field and possibly stay back in situations, to prevent scoring opportunities for Wake Forest.
If the duo is able to hold down the middle, while lifting a few long balls for the forwards to feast on, the College will be able to hang with the Demon Deacons.
Tribe 2, Wake Forest 2. Tribe wins on penalty kicks 4-3 with Thomas netting the winning tally.