Bruno Lapa had a feeling a goal was eventually going to come as the fourth-ranked Wake Forest men’s soccer team continued to move the ball against No. 19 North Carolina on Friday night at Spry Stadium.
Wake Forest Coach Bobby Muuss also had a feeling, and with 11 minutes left it was Lapa who struck gold for the Deacons for a 1-0 win in front of a crowd of 3,300.
Lapa took a short pass from Machop Chol, who had received a pass from Alistair Johnston, right in the middle of the a crowd of Tar Heels defenders; Lapa saw a sliver of space and made the shot.
“Whenever Machop was able to beat his guy I made the run and I had an opening and I played it,” Lapa said. “Myself and Machop always talk about feeding each other, and he did it this time.”
The Deacons (12-2, 5-1 ACC) were facing a similar-style team in the Tar Heels (7-4-2, 3-3) but midfield was where most of the action was taking place. The Deacons had seven shots, the Tar Heels just four.
Muuss, whose Deacons are in first place in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, said the only goal of the game was a thing of beauty.
“We call that Wake Forest football at its finest right there. Dane kept saying on the bench a goal is coming, a goal is coming and if we played off the switch, we could get some chances on the inside,” Muuss said, referring to Dane Brenner, one of his assistant coaches.
And on the inside is where Lapa found some space to deliver his team-leading sixth goal of the season. He got it just past a diving Alex Smir, the Tar Heels’ goalie, a Greensboro native who is a graduate of Greensboro Day.
Smir, who made four saves, said both teams were moving the ball well the entire game.
“They moved it there at the right time and got the goal and we didn’t,” Smir said. “We knew they would be passing it around and that’s what they did, ... but we tried to play our game as well.”
The Deacons, who were wearing pink jerseys for the 12th annual Genna Wiley Memorial Match, kept running their offense until it finally clicked. There was never a show of panic and — as usual — they finally picked up a goal.
The Genna Wiley Memorial Match raises money for the Susan G. Komen organization, which works to defeat breast cancer. Wiley died two weeks after the Deacons won the national championship in 2007. Her husband, Steve, was the athletics trainer for the soccer team. Fans had a chance to bid on the pink jerseys online to raise money for cancer research. More than $5,500 was raised.
“When I got here five years ago they talked about this match, and 100% we were going to keep this going,” Muuss said. “Genna was a big part of this program and even though Steve couldn’t be here, we spoke to the guys about the impact Genna and Steve had on this program.”
Michael DeShields, a redshirt junior, said the Deacons have won the past three Genna Wiley matches. Each jerseys the Deacon wore for the game had “Wiley” on the back.
“Our key was staying committed to getting that shutout,” said DeShields, the Deacons’ top defender. “We talk about it getting a shutout and to get one against a good team like that means a lot.”
The Deacons are chasing their fifth straight Atlantic Division title with two ACC games left.
Wake Forest’s best chance to score in the first half came on a shot from Johnston from about 25 yards out. He caught a loose ball and blasted it with his left foot, but Smir made a good save. The Deacons had just four shots in the first half and the Tar Heels failed to record a shot.
In the second half, with 23 minutes left, UNC had its best chance to score, but Raul Aguilera’s shot from about 20 yards out went off the left post. Goalie Andrew Pannenberg got his seventh shutout for the Deacons.
“Today, some of the football we played was outstanding and it’s fun to watch,” Pannenberg said. “This was a big win for us and it was a team effort.”
Notes: North Carolina is ranked 44th in the latest RPI, and was coming off a 4-3 loss to Syracuse. The Tar Heels also have a 0-0 tie with Davidson and a 3-2 loss to Duke.... The Deacons will play their final nonconference game of the season on Tuesday at home against Loyola Maryland at 7 p.m. The Deacons final home game of the regular-season is next Saturday against Notre Dame at 7 p.m…. Be-fore Friday’s night game the Deacons had scored 13 goals in their last three games, which included a 5-0 blowout of William & Mary earlier in the week. The Deacons rank sixth in the country in goals scored with 31 goals before Fri-day’s game. The Deacons lead the nation in assists with 60…. One of the traits of the Deacons is sharing the goal scoring and it’s evident in the ACC statistics for goals scored. The only Deacon in the top 10 is Bruno Lapa, who came into Friday’s game 10th in the ACC with five goals.