Men’s soccer looks toward matchup with No. 1 North Carolina

Adrian Martino/Old Gold & Black

Adrian Martino/Old Gold & Black

The past week has been very good to the men’s soccer team – they dominated new conference foes Pitt 2-0 and grounded out a tough 2-1 win against VCU to pick up two straight victories. For this Deacon squad though, the competition is about to heat up. They’ll face their toughest challenge yet this Saturday, Sept. 28 when they host the top-ranked University of North Carolina.

Despite holding that #1 spot nationally, UNC comes in at ninth in the ACC, going 0-0-3 in conference play so far. The Deacs were knocked down to 24th in this week’s rankings after a tough loss at Elon on Sept. 17, but stand alone at the top of the ACC with a 3-0-0 record. Numbers aside, there’s no doubt that this in-state match-up will be one for the ages. Senior forward Andy Lubahn, who moved into tenth on the all-time goal list for Wake this past week, is looking forward to the matchup.

“Anytime we play UNC it’s a good game for us,” Lubahn said. “They’re a big rival. I still think it’s about what we can control. I think as long as we play the way we know how to play, and force our game on them a little bit, we’ll be successful.”

A recent hot streak for the Deacs has been in large part thanks to the defensive-minded strategy that defines the “Wake Way.” Senior defender Chris Duvall has been a force to be reckoned with on the back line this season, and he’s a big believer in DIE as being a key part to the Deacons’ success.

“For us, that’s everything,” Duvall said. “We think that even our offense starts with our defense so our attackers have to defend just as much as our defenders, and we go on from there. On the other side of the field, Lubahn agrees, which indicates just how much this squad believes in defense first. “It’s kind of been our mantra since most of us have been here,” Lubahn said. “I think it’s something that makes it hard for teams to play against us and something we take pride in.”

The Deacs will be without junior forward Sean Okoli, who will sit out after earning a red card against VCU earlier in the week. The team is ready for the challenge though, and that decisive victory over VCU is fueling them on.

“I think it’s just a mentality,” head coach Jay Vidovich said. “We had a big midweek result. Now we have an opportunity with a team that this senior class has not beaten.” The Deacs are 10-22-9 all-time against the Tarheels and will look to pick up their first win over North Carolina since 2008.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Spry Stadium. Saturday’s game also marks the dedication of the Walt Chyzowych Alumni Hill and the first 100 students on the Hill will receive a Spry’s Army t-shirt. The first 250 students in attendance will receive a Wake Forest Soccer pint glass and three drink coupons from Finnegan’s Wake.

 

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