HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 20, 2011 – The 24th-ranked James Madison men’s soccer team scored two first-half goals to beat Wake Forest 2-0 Sunday night in NCAA second-round action at the JMU Soccer Complex.
The Dukes (13-4-2), the No. 14 seed, advance to the round of 16 against No. 3 Connecticut, which beat Monmouth 2-1 in an earlier second-round game Sunday. The next round of games is scheduled for Nov. 27.
Unseeded Wake Forest finished the season with an 8-8-5 record.
JMU remained unbeaten at home, raising its home record to 10-0-1.
The Dukes scored early and added a second goal in the 32nd minute.
JMU's first score came at the 13:16 mark on the Dukes' second shot of the game. Redshirt junior Christian McLaughlin (Herndon, Va./Herndon) slotted a pass from just outside the box to senior Patrick Innes (Chester, Va./Thomas Dale) on the right side. Innes sent a pass into the box where redshirt senior Jimmy Simpson (Warrenton, Va./Fauquier) got a foot on the ball, directing it toward the net. Simpson's shot deflected off a Wake Forest defender and into the goal.
Simpson and McLaughlin teamed up for the Dukes' second score. Simpson got the ball off a Wake defender and dribbled into the right side of the box, drawing Wake junior goalkeeper Michael Lisch (Austin, Texas/Westlake). He then slipped a pass across to an on-rushing McLaughlin, who sent an eight-yard shot into the goal.
JMU held a 15-9 advantage on shots, and redshirt senior goalkeeper Justin Epperson (Herndon, Va./Oakton) made three saves to get his ninth shutout of the season. Lisch finished with one save.
Post-Game News Conference.
JMU head coach Tom Martin:
“I don’t think there’s any question that this was a great win but it was a result against a good team of continuing to do what we do. We had to work. We had to outwork them. We had to post a couple of goals. And we had to fall into our modus operandis of defending well and looking to catch them on a break. All credit to the kids. We bent a little bit but we didn’t break. Make no mistake, Wake’s a very good team. But as the game went on and they started hitting long balls down the middle, that’s pretty much our bread and butter. And we were winning the first ball and picking up the second ball.”
JMU forward Jimmy Simpson on first goal:
“Pitzy (Patrick Innes) did an awesome job on the right side to hold it off. He whipped a great ball in and I just tried to throw a foot in there and pick up anything I could. It actually hit off my foot and off the other kid’s foot and in. I don’t even know if it hit my foot. I felt a connection to something. It was a grinder just trying to throw my body in there.”
Jimmy Simpson on steal on second goal:
“I was pacing myself up there because they did an excellent job of knocking the ball back and forth. As a solo forward it’s kind of hard to deal with that. I picked a time to go and luckily picked it off the other guy’s foot. I had no angle and I heard Christian (McLaughlin) coming up behind me and yelling ‘cut it’ so I just cut it back and luckily he was right there to pick it up and put it in.”
JMU midfielder Christian McLaughlin on first goal of season:
“It’s been a long time coming but all the credit goes to Jimmy. He stole the ball. I just tried my hardest to get in there. I was screaming his name and hoping he was hearing me. He did the exact right thing and just played a little cut ball and I buried it home.”
JMU defender Dale Robins-Bailey on playing with two-goal lead:
“There’s a little bit of difference there. You have to concentrate a lot more. You can’t just get in the mindset of ‘we’re going to win this game 2-0.’ We knew after the Delaware game that we were the better team and just got unlucky there. But we knew we can beat anyone. We’re confident moving forward and defending. We can play with anyone really.”
Tom Martin on team mindset heading in:
“To be very fair, the last three games prepared us for this game. That’s exactly how we approached it. Once we got the home-field advantage and clinched the conference, it was all about ‘let’s rest some kids with injuries and rest some kids with cards.’ It’s an intelligent decision that you have to make then and not an emotional one. I’m sure these guys are all begging to play a little bit more. Those are tough decisions to make, but fortunately we got a little bit of help from Northeastern (winning) against Old Dominion (giving JMU the top seed for the CAA Tournament) and we were able to sit back a little bit. But tonight we were at full strength and we had a great first half. We knew they’d come at us in the second half. We didn’t play as well as we could have in those first 10 to 15 minutes but then after that, it was ‘look, we’re going to win those long balls that they play down the middle and we’ll see if we can counter.’ To their credit they’re a very good team. They got behind and that’s kind of what you don’t want to do against us. We’ll defend you.”
Tom Martin on facing UConn:
“It’s one of the storied programs in the country. It’s a great opportunity for us. That’s the story with these guys, it’s all about opportunity. When you go back to all the preseason stuff about how bad we’re going to be or where we’re going to finish, kids use that as ammunition and use that as motivation. I know there’s not a lot of stock in preseason rankings, but there was for these guys.”
Wake Forest head coach Jay Vidovich:
“Congratulations to James Madison. Certainly, they’ll be a worthy opponent to UConn in the next round. It’s an interesting game. I think James Madison did a great job at the initial start of the match of putting us on our heels and setting the tempo of the game. When you give up an own goal and your back gives a ball to a striker in your attacking third, it’s very difficult to come back from. I applaud the efforts of our guys in the second half. They worked very hard and pushed the game. We just couldn’t find enough. Again, hats off to James Madison, they stood strong in their back line and did a tremendous job battling.”
(Note, JMU’s first goal by Jimmy Simpson deflected off a Wake Forest defender)
Jay Vidovich on emphasis not to fall behind:
“In tournament play in particular, first goal is so critical. The best thing I can say about James Madison is that their team mentality at the start of the match is just tremendous, under pressure putting us on our heels. They did a great job.”