Is it really considered payback if a team didn’t beat you the first time? Maybe, maybe not.
Either way, Wake Forest coach Michael Atkinson used that as motivation for his Cougars to defeat the Rolesville, 4-0, in the second annual Devils Cup match on Friday night.
The last time the two teams met, Wake Forest (4-2-3, 0-2 Cap-8) felt like it let one slip away, tying rival Rolesville (0-8-2, 0-3 GNRC) 2-2 on Aug. 20.
Atkinson said that tie was still fresh on the minds of his players when they took the field the second time around.
“They really hit us in the mouth early (in the first meeting),” Atkinson said of the Rams. “I was really proud of my boys for coming out and getting a little redemption.”
In that first meeting, Wake Forest gave up a goal with nine seconds remaining in the game to spoil its lead. This time around, the Cougars made sure the Rams weren’t as close in the final moments.
Wake Forest took a one-point lead into intermission, thanks to a goal from senior Will Rudolph at the 13:39 mark of a tightly played first half.
In the second half, the Cougars caught fire, getting two consecutive goals from Zach Engel and one from Nick Fekaris.
“I knew as soon as the first one went in things would start flowing,” Atkinson said. “And they did. In the second half you could see a little avalanche start to build up. I’m really proud of my guys. Hopefully it won’t take a goal next time for us to play better.”
It took more than 20 minutes for Wake Forest to get the first one through the net. Even then, the Rams battled to the half, down just one with another 40 minutes to play. After intermission, the Cougars wasted little time getting on the board with Engel finding the back of the net 3 minutes into the second half.
“We just kept pounding away and we got all our goals,” Engel said.
Rolesville is still seeking its first win in school history. Head coach James Overman said errors doomed the Rams.
“We make too many mental mistakes where we kind of stop thinking for a minute,” Overman said. “We got out of position and they capitalize.”
Wake Forest got on the board in the first half, but Rolesville was still hanging around, keeping itself in the hunt. When the Cougars scored two second-half goals in a 22-minute span, both by Engel, that turned the tide.
“Getting a goal improves all our chemistry,” Engel said. “Everybody starts picking their heads up and believing a little bit more. We start taking more shots and creating more opportunities for ourselves.”
Three who mattered
Zach Engel, Wake Forest: Scored two goals in the second half for the Cougars to break open a tight game.
Will Rudolph, Wake Forest: His opening goal in the first half got the Cougars on the board and gave them a much needed boost against a tough Rolesville squad.
Conner Cochrane, Wake Forest: The Cougars’ goalkeeper kept the Rams out of the net with several key stops.
“Our senior leadership has been our big cornerstone so far,” Atkinson said. “Three goals by seniors, my goalkeeper is a senior, my backline is held by seniors.”
They said it
“We hate getting anything less than the win,” Engel said. “We just wanted to come out and get the win today, especially for what it stood for.”
The Cougars found success in the second half when they were able to get the ball to into Rolesville territory and weigh their options. Always on the attack, Wake Forest did a good job of moving the ball around once they crossed midfield and were able to pick their spots and finish.
Even though this was an nonconference game for both teams, Wake Forest got back on the winning track after dropping a tough Cap-8 game at Broughton on Monday. A win, in league or not, will go a long ways for this team heading into more conference games next week.
“It’s good just to build confidence and get everyone believing again,” Engel said. “We looked a little bit scared in conference, but this will definitely help out with confidence.”
Out of bounds
The Devils Cup Trophy was presented to the Cougars at midfield after the game. It was the second consecutive year the neighboring schools have competed for the Devils Cup, named for the former mascot of the original Wake Forest High School and the old Rolesville High. The game was also part of the Vs. Cancer Foundation to cure childhood cancer. Food trucks were set up outside the stadium and several items were raffled off, including a family pack to a Carolina Hurricanes game this season.