Wake For­est out­lasts Den­ver to reach NCAA soc­cer fi­nal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Af­ter a frus­trat­ing first half that saw his team stymied by a re­silient Den­ver de­fense, Wake For­est coach Bobby Mu­uss’ mes­sage to his team was to keep go­ing.

“If we’re en­joy­ing play­ing, we’ll be vic­to­ri­ous tonight,” Mu­uss said. Fol­low­ing a dom­i­nant sec­ond half and over­time, Ian Harkes broke in the 102nd minute and Wake For­est beat Den­ver 2-1 in dou­ble over­time Fri­day to ad­vance to the Col­lege Cup ti­tle game.

Wake For­est (19-3-2) will face Stan­ford in the cham­pi­onship to­day. Stan­ford beat North Carolina 10-9 on penalty kicks af­ter the teams failed to score in reg­u­la­tion and two over­time pe­ri­ods. The De­mon Dea­cons reached the cham­pi­onship game for the first time since win­ning the 2007 ti­tle.

Harkes calmly slot­ted his low fin­ish past goal­keeper Nick Gardner into the bot­tom cor­ner to cap an im­pres­sive De­mon Dea­cons counter at­tack. Wake For­est had plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to seal the vic­tory prior to Harkes’ goal, out­shoot­ing Den­ver 14-2 in the sec­ond half and over­time.

“I didn’t re­ally ex­pect it to be off the counter-at­tack,” Harkes said. Wake For­est’s Jon Bakero opened the scor­ing in the sev­enth minute. Bakero took pos­ses­sion from Den­ver de­fender Gra­ham Smith 30 yards from goal in the cen­ter of the field, turned to his right and de­liv­ered a curl­ing ef­fort past Gardner.

Trail­ing for only the fourth time this sea­son, the Pi­o­neers (20-1-3) re­sponded 10 min­utes later. Gra­ham Smith sent a lofted pass over the de­fense to for­ward An­dre Shinyashiki, who pounced on a re­bound to equal­ize af­ter his first shot was saved by goal­keeper Alec Fer­rell. It was Shinyashiki’s teamhigh ninth goal of the sea­son.

Af­ter half­time, Mu­uss cred­ited his team for set­tling the game down and tak­ing con­trol. “They’re tight games,” Mu­uss said. “No one wants to make mis­takes. I thought they did a re­ally great job of stay­ing com­pact.”

The Pi­o­neers out­shot Wake For­est 5-4 in the first half, 5-4, but the De­mon Dea­cons set­tled the game down and took con­trol from the start of the sec­ond half.

“I think there was a lit­tle bit of frus­tra­tion to­day,” Harkes said. “We need to set­tle the game down. In the first half, it was a lot of back and forth.”

The De­mon Dea­cons had the best chances in the sec­ond half. Bakero took a cross from the right wing and hit a shot off the cross­bar, while Harkes had a shot in the fi­nal minute go straight at Gardner.

The win­ner in the sec­ond over­time came off the counter-at­tack fol­low­ing a Den­ver cor­ner kick. Bakero turned past a de­fender near mid­field and started a 3-on-1 counter with Harkes to his right. “There was just one de­fender there and I took a big touch,” Bakero said. “I tried to take him to the left to cre­ate space for Ian.” The loss was Den­ver’s first of the sea­son and first since los­ing to SMU in the NCAA Tour­na­ment last sea­son.

“I’m re­ally proud of my group,” se­nior mid­fielder Sam Hamil­ton said. “I think we took the pro­gram to a place it’s never been, which is not an easy thing to do. We built a be­lief for the pro­gram to feed off of.”

Mu­uss coached and re­cruited Den­ver’s Jamie Franks to play for the De­mon Dea­cons in 2005 as an as­sis­tant. Mu­uss then took his first head coach­ing job in Den­ver in 2007. Franks joined his for­mer coach’s staff and be­came the head coach of the Pi­o­neers when Mu­uss moved to Wake For­est.

“We had a mo­ment be­fore the game un­der­neath the tun­nel that was spe­cial,” Franks said. “He’s my men­tor.” — AP

HOUS­TON: Den­ver’s Karsten Han­lin (17) tries to stop Wake For­est’s Alex Knox (18) from get­ting con­trol of the ball dur­ing the first half of the NCAA soc­cer men’s Col­lege Cup semi­fi­nal Fri­day, in Hous­ton. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.