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WAKE FOREST — It took overtime to determine the rivalry boys soccer matchup between Wake Forest and Heritage, but the Cougars emerged victorious 3-2 to hand the Huskies their first loss of the season at home Oct. 3.
The soccer rivalry between Wake Forest and Heritage has gone back and forth in recent years, but the Huskies usually end up on the winning end. This time, the Cougars scored early in extra time to come out on top.
“I want to say tonight was a miracle, but that wouldn’t do justice for my guys,” Wake Forest head coach Rick Pittarelli said. “Tonight was about heart. Our guys have been resilient all year. We’ve played some tough teams this season and Heritage is no joke either. The guys wanted it. It’s something I can’t coach.”
It took awhile for anyone to score in this heated contest. With less than two minutes until halftime, Wake Forest’s Jake Smith sent a free kick into the box and the ball bounced around until sophomore Josh Rutland kicked the ball into the back of the net. The Cougars went into halftime up 1-0.
Early on in the second half, Heritage tied the game after a big kick from Landon Sloan. With eight minutes left in the match, Heritage’s Daniel Lugo broke the tie and gave the Huskies their first lead of the game off a long shot.
Then five minutes later, Wake Forest tied the game again off a goal from Ryan Pitz right outside the penalty box. No one scored after that to send the game into overtime.
Two minutes into the extra time period, Wake Forest’s Ian Dudley drove down the right side of the field, taking the ball into scoring territory. The senior shot the ball but it bounced off the post. However, his teammate Khalil Gueye was there for the rebound and scored the final goal of the match.
Even though it was Gueye who scored the game-winning goal, Pittarelli credited Dudley for helping the Cougars win the match with his effort to get the ball in the right position.
“We call Ian Dudley the badger, because he fights for the ball,” Pittarelli said. “He is hard to push off the ball. I needed him to do that tonight and that’s what he did to get that last goal.”
With the loss, Heritage dropped to 9-4-3 and 4-1 in NAC 6 conference play. The Huskies are undefeated at home at 5-0-2 but have lost three matches on the road. The loss at Wake Forest breaks a five-game win streak.
With the win, Wake Forest improved to 10-1-2 and are still undefeated in NAC 6 conference play at 5-0. The Cougars have won six matches in a row and are undefeated at home at 6-0.
“I have to give credit to all the coaches that have been behind me giving me advice over the years,” Pittarelli said. “I teach the guys to play one game at a time and they have bought into it.”
The big win over their rivalry puts Wake Forest alone at No. 1 in the NAC 6 conference. Heritage is behind them by one game at second place. Corinth Holders is the next closest competitor at third place with a record of 5-10.
Wake Forest will play at Rolesville on Monday at 6 p.m. The Cougars will have a rematch with Heritage on the road on Monday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m.
“We have to focus and take everything one game at a time,” Pittarelli said.