NCAA Soccer Tournament Preview

Wake Forest was awarded the number one overall seed in the NCAA DI Men’s Soccer Championship Bracket after winning the ACC Tournament against the University of Virginia. Wake entered the tournament last year as the number 2 seed and made it all the way to the finals but fell just short by losing in penalty kicks. Wake looks to make it all the way this year in their 7th straight tournament appearance, and 21st appearance overall. It has been exactly ten years since the 2007 Wake Forest Men’s Soccer Team beat Ohio State 2-1 in the championship game.

Wake Forest defeated UVA in the ACC Title Game in penalty kicks after being given a red card 43 minutes into the game. Playing a man down for a total of 67 minutes, the Deacons managed to not just stay in the game, but also out shoot Virginia 8-3 while they were down a man. When penalty kicks came around, the Cavaliers stopped the Deacons first two shots, putting Wake in a very difficult position, however Wake made the next four attempts from Bruno Lapa, Justin McMaster, Luis Argudo and Ema Twumasi. These four straight put UVA in a do or die situation and they ended up missing, giving Wake the ACC Title for a second straight year.

Along with the title, the ACC Championship MVP was awarded to sophomore goalkeeper Andreu Cases Mundet. Head Coach Bobby Muss had this to say after the game, “I was extremely emotional at the end of it. We could’ve given up. That’s what I told them at halftime. But no…That second half and the overtimes are probably the most bought in this group has been. I’ve never been more proud of a group. Were we tired? 100 percent. But we did not give in. Being down two penalties, a lot of teams would ask what their purpose was here. Andreu makes the big save, and a lot of guys step up and bury it when we need them.”

This year’s team has been a very impressive group, boasting a 17-1-2 record with their last loss coming from Georgia State on September 5th, 17 games ago. Senior Captain Jon Bakero is leading the team with an impressive 42 points coming from 14 goals and 14 assists, followed by Sophomore Ema Twumasi with 10 goals and 5 assists, totalling 25 points. Wake has been dominant in almost all forms this year, outshooting opponents 334 to 122, and outscoring opponents 55 to 11.

This year’s bracket has the following top 5 seeds respectively: Wake Forest, Indiana, North Carolina, Louisville, and Akron. Just by looking at the bracket, a lot of the teams who are making appearances are familiar teams who Wake has already faced this year. The Demon Deacons have a first-round bye and are set to play their first game at home on November 19th at 5pm against Columbia.

The Demon Deacons have put themselves in a very favorable position, needing just three wins to make it to the championship. Along this path they may face number 9 Stanford and try to avenge their loss to them in the finals last year in penalty kicks. Winning the whole tournament is the goal, but first the Demon Deacons have to get there.

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