Wake Forest steamrolling into College Cup
FRISCO, Texas -- After dominating the first three rounds, top-seeded Wake Forest will see some familiar faces in its bid to repeat as the College Cup champion.
The Deamon Deacons (23-11) are joined in the semifinals by fellow Atlantic Coast Conference powers Maryland (21-3-0) and North Carolina (14-7-1), and St. John's (19-2-3) of the Big East.
"It speaks volumes for our conference," Wake Forest coach Jay Vidovich said of three ACC teams reaching the semis. "A lot of people questioned the state of the conference this season so to have three is a great statement."
The Demon Deacons, who face the Tar Heels in the first semifinal on Friday, won their first three games in the tournament by a total score of 13-0. The only blemishes on Wake Forest's record are a 3-2 loss to Virginia in double-overtime in the ACC tournament, and a scoreless draw with Duke in the regular season.
Vidovich knows how tough North Carolina can be.
On Nov. 1, the Tar Heels held a 1-0 halftime lead before the Demon Deacons broke through with four goals in the second half for a 4-2 victory that clinched the ACC regular-season title for the fourth time in seven years.
Wake Forest is led by strikers Cody Arnoux (17 goals) and Marcus Tracy (13 goals). Midfielder Corben Bone, who starred in high school in nearby Plano, has a team-high 17 assists for the Deacons.
"It's exciting to play in your hometown," Bone said.
The Tar Heels, the No. 13 seed, rebounded from a five-game losing streak to advance through the first three rounds of the NCAAs. Coach Elmar Bolowich said his team is anxious to redeem itself after squandering the first-half lead against Wake Forest.
"We played well for 60 minutes against Wake, but then we made some mistakes and were punished," Bolowich said. "But playing in the ACC, it does prepare you. There are no weak teams in our conference."
North Carolina midfielder Cameron Brown said his team is eager to snap a three-game losing streak against Wake Forest and knock off the top team in the country.
"It's time we gave Wake Forest a run and put them on their heels," said Brown, who grew up in Garland, a Dallas suburb.
ACC tournament champion and second-seeded Maryland faces St. John's in the nightcap at Pizza Hut Park, the home stadium of MLS's FC Dallas. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday.
The Terrapins, paced by midfielder Jeremy Hall (14 goals) and forward Casey Townsend (11 goals), beat Virginia in the ACC tournament final. Maryland won the NCAA title in 2005 and established a program record for victories this season, including 13 by shutout.
But the Terps know getting past No. 3 seed St. John's won't be easy, although Maryland has won the last three meetings with the Red Storm to take a 4-3 lead in the series.
"They're one of the tough teams in college soccer," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "It's been one of the great rivalries on the East Coast. We've had mixed results against them."
St. John's coach Dr. Dave Masur said his team is not intimidated by the presence of three ACC powers.
"College soccer is a small community," Masur said. "We know challenges come from all over. We don't focus on that at all."