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Virginia's Jess Orrett, 3, and Wake Forest's Emily Conroe, 18, battle for the ball during the ACC Field Hockey Semifinals, on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, in Durham, N.C. #ACCFH (Photo by Sara D. Davis, theACC.com)
Demon Deacons advance to first finals appearance since 2008
DURHAM , N.C. – No. 4 Wake Forest scored two goals in the second half and rode a strong defensive performance to claim a 2-1 victory over top-seeded Virginia in the first of two ACC Field Hockey Championship semifinal matches Friday.
The victory sends Wake Forest to its first appearance in the finals since 2008, where it will take on either second-seeded North Carolina or sixth-seeded Syracuse. It marks the school’s ninth appearance in the ACC title game, all under head coach Jen Averill.
“It was an incredible team performance,” said Averill. “My hats off to the team; they without a doubt executed the game plan today. That was a great, classic Wake Forest performance.”
The first score of the match came with eight minutes left in the first half when Wake Forest’s Christine Conroe inserted a penalty corner to Anna Kozniuk, who ripped a shot that was deflected in by Jess Newak for her fifth goal of the season.
After being held without a shot in the first half, Virginia got on the scoreboard five minutes into the second frame. The Cavaliers’ Caleigh Foust took a restart from just inside midfield and split through the Wake Forest defense before putting a shot into the right side of the net. The goal was Foust’s 14th of the season.
With the match knotted at 1-1 in the 63rd minute, the Demon Deacons’ Newak set up Kozniuk at the top of the circle off a penalty corner. Kozniuk found the top of the cage for a goal, her 15th of the season and second of the tournament.
The Cavaliers had one final opportunity with 45 seconds left as they crossed a pass from the right side of the circle, but the Demon Deacons defense cleared the ball to clinch a spot in the title game.
“How the game was played wasn’t disappointing,” said Virginia head coach Michele Madison. “I thought we dominated some significant portions of the game enough to generate some goals and weren’t able to do that. Wake Forest’s defense is awesome and they were able to shut us down inside the circle.”
Wake Forest held a 6-2 advantage in shots and had three penalty corners to Virginia’s one.