Coach Bobby Muuss of Wake Forest played a hunch Sunday night in the penalty-kick shootout victory over Virginia Tech in front of just over 2,000 fans at Spry Stadium in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
After 120 minutes with goalie Andrew Pannenberg, Muuss switched goalies for the shootout. Going with Dominic Peters, a redshirt sophomore who hasn’t played that much this season, worked to perfection.
The game was tied at 2 after regulation, and it remained tied after two 10-minute overtime periods. As the game moved into penalty kicks, Peters delivered by making two great saves to win the shootout 6-5.
“It’s as simple as make saves,” Peters said about his mindset in the shootout. “You always have to come in and try to make a difference no matter what your role is, and when I got the call I was ready to go.”
While Muuss was disappointed that the seventh-ranked Deacons made two defensive miscues that allowed the 22nd-ranked Hokies to score twice in the final 13 minutes, he was pleased with the resiliency they showed in the shootout.
The Deacons (14-3-2) took the 6-5 lead when Machop Chol made his penalty kick against goalie Mathijs Swaneveld. It was Swaneveld who gave the Hokies the advantage early in the shootout format by stopping Alistair Johnston’s penalty kick.
But Peters made a save midway through the shootout, and it was up to him to end it after Chol’s goal.
Taking the final penalty kick for the Hokies (9-5-3) was senior James Kasak, who had an earlier goal during regulation. Peters guessed right and leaned to the left and stoned Kasak’s left-footed shot.
“I tried to get into his head, and then you choose a side and I went the right way and stopped it,” said Peters, who played the entire way in the Deacons’ final regular-season game against Louisville last week.
Muuss said in the overtime he discussed a possible shootout with Dane Brenner, one of his associate head coaches. Peters played the entire way against Louisville in the 3-1 win because Pannenberg had a slight injury. That game was the longest stretch of action Peters had seen in his career with the Deacons, and he said playing the other night gave him confidence for the shootout.
“Dom Peters came in at the end and with your back against the wall you know if you make that save it’s over and it’s what you dream about as a goalie,” Muuss said.
The third-seeded Deacons will head to Charlottesville, Va. on Wednesday to take on the second-seeded Virginia Cavaliers in the ACC Tournament semifinals.
In regulation, the Deacons grabbed the 2-0 lead in the second half. The teams were both scoreless in the first half, but the back-and-forth play was entertaining in the second half and in the overtimes. The high-scoring Deacons are used to facing teams that pack in their defense, but the Hokies played them straight up.
On their first goal, Isaiah Parente fed Joey DeZart in the 60th minute on a corner kick and DeZart scored from about 20 yards out. Instead of lobbing the corner kick toward the goal, Parente said he saw DeZart break out to the top and Parente’s pass was perfect.
The Deacons had one of their prettiest goals of the season 15 minutes later when Parente started another attack and hit Calvin Harris deep. Harris then made a short pass to Kyle Holcomb who blasted it in for a 2-0 lead.
Kasak, however, came back and scored when his shot deflected off Wake Forest defender Michael DeShields to cut the lead to 2-1. In the 82nd minute, the Hokies scored again on a free kick from about 22 yards out by Daniel Pereria.
Parente also scored in the shootout, but he didn’t blast it by Swaneveld. Instead, he chipped a soft shot casually into the net that gave the Deacons momentum.
“That gave us some momentum because we were down one and I kept seeing the goalie leave early so I just figured it would work,” Parente said about the penalty kick. “I mean, it’s only 12 yards away on those PK’s.”
The Deacons had 21 shots on goal during the 110 minutes of play and the Hokies had just eight shots.
Muuss said they will have to play a lot better on Wednesday in the semifinals.
“It was a good result at the end because we advanced,” Muuss said. “But give credit to Virginia Tech because they do what they do. You’re happy advancing but not giving up two goals in the final 16 minutes and running into the ground like that because we have a quick turnaround on Wednesday at Virginia.”
While Parente was one of the offensive heroes, he gave credit to Peters for stepping up during the shootout.
“He was tremendous in stopping those two shots,” Parente said. “He made those big-time PK saves, so this keeps our hopes up as we head to Virginia.”