WINSTON-SALEN, N.C. – The 13-ranked Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team opened the program’s 34th season of play with a thrilling 1-nil victory at No. 17 Wake Forest on Friday evening as part of the Carolina Nike Classic.
After battling to a scoreless tie over the first 42 minutes of play, Matt Risher found the only goal of the game with 2:59 showing on the Spry Stadium scoreboard before halftime. The play was ignited by a Justin Portillo pass to Ridge Robinson on the right flank. Robinson went deep into his own attacking third and slid a cross toward a pair of Chants making runs toward the goal. Risher was the first to find the cross and buried his one-timer down the center of the net for his and Coastal’s first goal of the season. The goal is Risher’s fourth of his Chanticleer career.
Coastal (1-0-0) has now defeated the Wake Forest (0-1-0) in each of the Demon Deacons’ last two outings, including a 2-1 overtime victory in last season’s NCAA Tournament Second Round.
The Chants opened the game on the offensive, tallying a trio of shots and a pair of corner opportunities in the initial five minutes of play. Wake then responded with offensive pressure of its own. The Demon Deacons notched several scoring opportunities with their attack, but the Chanticleer backline, anchored by Big South Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Uchenna Uzo and newcomer Kai Morton, turned away each threat.
The teams then exchanged attacks and counters for the remainder of the half until Risher broke through with his decisive strike.
The second half was a much more defensive affair for the Chants as they protected their 1-0 lead. Two key defensive plays highlighted the stanza for the Chants, the first coming at the 63:48 mark as newcomer Frederik Frankman tracked down a Wake Forest forward on a counter attack to knock the ball out away near the touch line. The second came with 4:15 to play in regulation; following a Coastal foul, Wake lined up for a free kick from 25-yards out. The well-struck ball appeared destined to find the head of a Demon Deacon striker before Morton headed it over the crossbar.
Sophomore goalkeeper Devin Cook made his presence known in his first match in the Chanticleer teal and black. The Simi Valley, Calif., native came away with a pair of spectacular saves in the first half to keep the game scoreless. Cook’s first save came at the 35:33 mark as his denied Wake Forest’s Andy Lubahn on a point-blank 1v1 opportunity. Cook recorded his second great save of the half on Wake’s Rafael Fagundo’s shot from the top of the box following a Demon Deacons’ set piece.
Coastal concludes the Carolina Nike Classic at fourth-ranked North Carolina on Sunday at 7 p.m. The Tar Heels and Chanticleers last met in the 2011 NCAA Tournament Second Round with UNC claiming a 3-2 decision to end the Chants’ season.