The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-2, 1-1) have a tough job ahead of them as they travel to take on NC State Wolfpack (4-3, 0-2) at Dail Soccer Field / Track Complex in Raleigh as they look to secure their first ACC road victory of the season. The Deacs enter this one as back-to-back game winners, their most recent being a 1-0 win in Fairfax, Va. Over George Mason on Monday, Wake leaving their goal until the final 20 minutes but dominating the proceedings with a team that was heavily shot. As for the Pack, their last game was last Friday, when they traveled to South Bend and found themselves on the wrong side of a 1-0 score with Notre Dame, as the Irish scored a late one. and saw the match end. It was their second loss to the ACC, their first to Clemson the previous Friday in a 2-0 game. With both teams still in troubled waters, this game is a huge litmus test to see where both teams are going this season.
This is the 49th meeting between rivals The Big Four, with the Deacs having a dominant lead in the time series, scoring 31-11-6 against the Pack, who have not won any of the previous 19 meetings between schools, with their most recent victory over Wake in the 2006 season. Last year the Deacs went 1-0-1 in the seasonal series against State, destroying the Wolfpack in Raleigh by a score of 4-1 at fall, but tied them 0-0 at Winston-Salem in the spring. State would end last season 3-8-4 overall and 1-7-4 in conference, failing to register an ACC victory until March 26, when they would win 2OT over Syracuse. . Last season ended their 3-year tournament streak under head coach George Kiefer, who had previously guided USF to 10 tournament appearances in his 15 years before becoming a coach- leader at Raleigh prior to the 2017 season. He had won more games than he lost in each of his previous seasons at Raleigh prior to last year and has been a lingering thorn in the side of many teams. elite of the ACC. Although they are winless in conference and were picked to finish 5th in the Atlantic Division, they won their two pre-season shows against Virginia Tech and Duke, who are currently the number 12 and number 6 teams in the country. While exhibits may not be good indicators of how good a team is in a real season, it should be borne in mind that this team has caused real problems for two of the country’s top teams in the past. pre-season.
Tactically, the Pack deploy a 4-3-3, with Alex Hernandez as the most advanced player in midfield, joining the forwards to press. It’s a team that likes quick transitions, kicking the ball for a long time to put pressure on opposing defenders and win second balls. They are quick, physical and aggressive, much like the Louisville team that Wake played a few weeks ago, but not with the same level of press intensity. They like their strong full-back to advance, so in possession the formation almost settles into a 3 in the back, with the weak full-back pulling back to build with the center-backs while the strong full-back joins the back. ‘attack. They like to work the ball on the flanks and send crosses, as they have a big center-forward and are also a threat on free kicks not only on corners and free kicks, but also on direct free kicks. Wake will have to be careful not to be so sloppy in this game, because against George Mason they did some nasty midfield turnovers that, with all due respect, a more competent team would do a lot more. Wake has shown an ability over the last two games to match his opponent’s intensity, especially in that Pitt game where they won more second balls than the team that apparently couldn’t lose them in their previous games, and they’ll need to redo tonight. While not a team that relies on quick transitions, State will give them plenty of opportunities to catch them out of form, because when they own the ball they settle into that weird three-way form with a only deep midfielder. If Wake can find their outside players out of the state press or if they can strip the ball in midfield, they could wreak havoc. A third straight win for Wake would be a huge change in momentum for the Deacs, while State could turn things around for their season with a win like this.
# 5 Jamie Smith (CB): Smith is entering his third year with NC State after joining them from Limestone College, a Division II college in Gaffney, SC, and has become a mainstay of their defense. He is an aggressive and physical defender who loves duels, but also has an extra wrinkle to his game, as a dead ball specialist for this team. He sits second on the team with 2 goals, both against James Madison and both coming straight from free kicks. He will be tasked with containing one of the best forwards in the country, Kyle Holcomb, and that will be his main responsibility, but if a free kick opportunity presents itself, he can be just as dangerous for Wake’s goal as he. a rock in front of that of State.
# 13 Alex Hernandez (AM): Hernandez has been a boon to the state under unfortunate circumstances, with App State’s program shutting down after the 2019 season and forcing players like Hernandez to look elsewhere to end their college careers. The Pack reaped the rewards, with Hernandez now being their primary link between midfield and attacking. A delicate player with big feet and control of the ball in tight spaces, he is a persistent problem for defenders, who must choose between stepping out towards him or letting him have the ball in space. He has recorded 2 assists this season, and while he still hasn’t scored a goal for the Pack, he’s a very dangerous offensive player when he puts the ball into play.
To wake up:
# 7 Kyle Holcomb (CF): Holcomb has been hot at the start of the season, registering 3 goals and 2 assists in 6 games this season, good for the team leader with 8. The problem for Wake didn’t created chances this season, he put them away. After the Deacs’ weak final performance against George Mason on Monday, Wake will face a much tougher opponent, and one who will likely punish them if they don’t bury their chances. Holcomb has been running hot and cold in front of goal for the past two years, but now that he’s off to a very good start, he’ll have to keep that momentum going and put aside any big chances that come his way this evening, as one always seems to fall on him. It could be the first step in turning what has been a hot Holcomb streak into an elite season.
# 24 Jake Swallen (CM): Swallen has had some tough games this season, but right now he’s showing why he deserves to start in one of those 8 places. He’s been absolutely essential in the last two wins, putting in a great shift with Pitt that included an assist on the second goal and scoring the winner in the game against George Mason on Monday. He’s sitting on 5 points this year, with one goal and 3 assists, but his work goes so much deeper than that. He was very good at winning second balls and midfield faults as well as advancing the ball well from defense to attack. He’ll be up against an aggressive and energetic team again tonight, and should be able to ensure that Wake retains control of the game and creates danger in the future, and it all starts with his ability to do the right thing. thing on the ball.
Kick-off is set for 7:00 am on ACCN Extra or ESPN +.