By Marty Simpkins
RALEIGH — With Wake Forest’s boys soccer team up 3-0, Wakefield scored two goals in the final 10 minutes. However, the Cougars countered with a goal in the final six seconds of the match to seal their fourth win a row in the 4-2 victory on the road Sept. 27.
Both Wake Forest and Wakefield were playing their third game in three consecutive days. The Cougars defeated Rolesville Monday and beat Garner 1-0 the Tuesday before.
Both teams looked fatigued from playing their third consecutive match in a row. Wake Forest head coach Rick Pittarelli praised his players for their perseverance and determination to get the win over their conference rival.
“We talked today about finishing,” Pittarelli said. “These are a special group of guys. Our midfielder Toremi Loningisa had his ribs wrapped up and he went back out there to play. That’s just the way these guys are.”
Wake Forest started the game with two goals in the first 10 minutes. Blake Brewer kicked the ball into the open net after Wakefield’s goalkeeper left his post to go after the ball. Five minutes later, Brewer fed the ball to Ross Genetti, who kicked it in to extend the lead to 2-0.
Pittarelli was absent on the sidelines at the start of the game because he was attending his son’s JROTC activation ceremony. Assistant coach Elias Zaytoun filled in for him for the entire first half.
“We showed a lot of effort in that first half,” Zaytoun said. “Our back defensive line was tremendous. Sometimes it’s not all about skill, but about will. We showed the will to win tonight.”
Early in the second half, Wake Forest defender Luke Sylvia was called for a handball inside the penalty box. Wakefield’s John
Alexander lined up for the penalty kick and took the shot, but Wake Forest goalkeeper Krystian Serwinski made the save.
A couple of minutes later, Brewer scored his second goal of the game. The senior forward hit the ball with his head over Wakefield’s goalkeeper and then hustled after it to kick it into the back of the net.
“There was a lack of communication on defense,” Wakefield head coach Michael Cantrell said. “It caused confusion and the easy, simple goals for Wake Forest.”
With 10 minutes left in the match, Wakefield finally got on the scoreboard with a goal from Connor Hoke. Four minutes later, Ian McDonald crossed the ball to Hoke in the middle and he scored on a header to cut the deficit to 3-2.
“We just put a lot of pressure on Wake Forest in those final 10 minutes,” Cantrell said. “It had a lot to do with Wake Forest being under a lot of stress.”
It appeared as if momentum shifted to Wakefield’s side as the players started putting more pressure on Wake Forest’s defense. Then Wake Forest’s Patrick Page took on Wakefield’s defense and drove down the field with the ball.
With six seconds left, Page knocked in a shot that deflated the rest of the Wolverines, while the Cougars cheered for excitement, knowing that all of their hard work throughout the match had paid off.
“The biggest thing I saw in the second half is desire,” Pittarelli said. “You can’t coach that. It’s got to come from within. These guys have dug deep for three straight days. There’s not an ounce of sweat that wasn’t poured into this win.”
With the loss, Wakefield dropped to 6-9-1 after losing three of their last four matches. Cantrell has noted some positives from his team. The Wolverines only won one match last year, but this season, they have more tools in place to put together some wins.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the desire to win,” Cantrell said. “The guys have to play for the other guy next to them. This year, we have more guys willing to do that. We started the season better to make things more simple moving forward. We just need to continue to get better.”
The fourth win in a row put Wake Forest up at 8-3-3 overall and 3-1 in NAC 6 conference play. Last season, the Cougars ended the year on a 13-game losing streak. Senior captain Edy Argueta made it clear to his fellow teammates that’s not going to happen this season.
“As a senior this year, I wanted to surpass the expectations the seniors from last year had,” Argueta said. “We have so much potential in every one of us. All of us play to a really high standard. Our goal is to make the playoffs.”
Wake Forest will play Corinth Holders at home Monday at 6 p.m. Wakefield will play at home against Heritage at the same date and time.