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Wake Forest shuts out Wakefield and Rolesville

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WAKE FOREST — Wake Forest’s boys soccer team extended their win streak to five games after shutting down Wakefield 3-0 on the road Tuesday and Rolesville 4-0 at home Sept. 25. The Cougars scored two goals in the first half at Wakefield. Khalil Gueye kicked the ball into the back of the net off an assist from Austin Talmadge. Then with three and a half minutes left in the half, Jake Smith scored for Wake Forest. Four minutes into the second half, Wake Forest’s Bryan Marshall scored a header off a throw-in from Talmadge. That gave the junior defender two assists for the game. Rick Pittarelli praised his team for playing well on defense to get the shut out. He said he knew what to expect coming into the game against Wakefield and his players did what they had to do to get the win. “We were able to position ourselves to make sure the ball didn’t get through,” Pittarelli said. “We had to really key on the through balls. Wakefield also likes to play long ball, so we had to get our wits together and shut that down.” “We were able to position ourselves to make sure the ball didn’t get through,” Pittarelli said. “We had to really key on the through balls. Wakefield also likes to play long ball, so we had to get our wits together and shut that down.” With the loss, Wakefield dropped to 3-11-2 and 1-3 in NAC 6 conference play. With six games left on their schedule, the Wolverines have a very slim chance of making the 4A state playoffs this year. With the win, Wake Forest improved to 9-1-2 and 4-0 in NAC 6 conference play. The Cougars are tied for first place with Heritage as both teams are undefeated against conference opponents. Pittarelli said a conference championship would bring a ton of recognition to the school’s soccer program. “The players want this more than anything,” Pittarelli said. “We want people to stop feeling like Wake Forest is just a football school. We want people to know that we’re a soccer school, too. The guys are putting their heart into it.” Against Rolesville Sept. 25, Wake Forest scored one goal in the first half and then poured on three more in the second. Jay Coleman scored first for the Cougars midway through the first half. About 10 minutes into the second half, Talmadge threw the ball in to James Holmes, who knocked the ball in with a header, extending the lead to 2-0. With 25 minutes left in the match, Ryan Pitz scored for the Cougars.

Eight minutes later, Wake Forest’s Luis Dorta scored the fourth goal of the match off a corner kick. The Cougars shut down the Rams from there to preserve the win. “Tonight was a work-in-progress to make sure we utilized the width of the field,” Pittarelli said. “We made sure our passes were connected. We communicated and moved the ball the way we wanted to while looking for open opportunities.” What’s even more impressive is that Wake Forest earned the win by sitting out most of their starters throughout the match to give them some rest. Wake Forest defender Parker Page talked about how his team was able to get the shut out with reserve players on the field. “The first half, we wanted to show how deep our team was,” Page said. “We played our entire second string in the first half. In the second half, we had some of our starters come in and just played our game. We put some more energy in the second half.” Pittarelli added praise to his team’s depth, showing that they can win a game when given the opportunity. “Our defense played with heart tonight,” Pittarelli said. “They played better than they have in a long time. Our bench players proved that they could get the shutout tonight.” With the loss, Rolesville dropped to 1-10 overall and 0-3 in NAC 6 conference play. The Rams have lost nine games in a row. Rolesville also lost to Heritage Tuesday night 9-1, putting them at 1-11 and 0-4 against conference opponents. For Wake Forest, their sights are set on a conference title. In order to win it, they will have to go through Heritage, the defending NAC 6 conference champs. “It’s tunnel vision for us right now,” Page said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time and go on to the next game.” Wake Forest will play Heritage Thursday at home at 6 p.m. Their next game after that is at Knightdale Monday at 6 p.m. “We just have to focus one game at a time,” Pittarelli said. “The guys can’t get caught up in the social media or anything like that. Don’t pay attention to rankings. Just focus on what we have to do and that’s win each game.”