MANDARICH TO BERRY 2.0
By Alex Botoman, Wake Forest Athletic Communications (@SIDeacons)
For the second game in a row, the two hooked up for a corner kick goal, and the Demon Deacon defense held Illinois without a shot on goal to post a 1-0 win against the Fighting Illini at Spry Stadium Sunday, closing out a perfect weekend at their home tournament.
"1-0 wins in soccer are very tough to get through mentally. You're always playing on the edge," said head coach Tony da Luz. "To beat a good Illinois 1-0 today and get two shutouts on the weekend, we're really proud of the team and where we're at going into the ACC (season)."
Missing two of their best offensive options for the weekend in Katie Stengel and Rachel Nuzzolese, the Demon Deacons (6-1-1) relied on a set piece to provide the scoring as they have for much of the season.
Mandarich found Berry with her corner kick service in the 72nd minute, and the redshirt junior directed a header that deflected off of an Illinois defender but still made its way into the side netting. Berry leads the team with seven points so far this season, and of her nine career goals, four of them have been game-winners.
"We have a lot of kids that can serve great balls (on set pieces), and we have a lot of kids who are very aggressive trying to get to them," said da Luz. "We made it a point this season that since Katie (Stengel) wasn't going to be here, we needed to generate goals in other ways and spread the goals around, so we've been training extra hard on set pieces."
Similar to their 1-0 win over UMass on Friday night, the Demon Deacon defense clamped down the opposition, holding the Fighting Illini (3-3-1) to only four shots with none of them on target.
Aubrey Bledsoe picked up her fourth shutout of the season in goal, extending her school record to 21 career shutouts.
Berry, Mandarich and Bledsoe all made the All-Tournament Team for the Demon Deacons, along with Riley Ridgik, who had a strong weekend in the defensive midfield.
The game was Wake Forest's last non-conference match before opening the challenging ACC season on the road at Miami (Sept. 13) and No. 1 Florida State (Sept. 16). Perhaps the biggest difference between the non-conference and conference season for the Demon Deacons will be in the starting lineup as reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year and two-time All-American Katie Stengel returns after winning the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Japan as a member of the U.S. squad.
"Getting Katie (Stengel) and Jessica (Mandarich) back - and Rachel (Nuzzolese) will be back next week - we're as good heading into (the ACC season) as I think we ever have been," said da Luz. "This is probably the toughest trip in the ACC. Miami has done so well over the past couple years since Tom (Anagnost) got there and is a tough team, and Florida State is always a great team. It will be a great test for us."
The Demon Deacons will face the Hurricanes in Coral Gables on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. before traveling to Tallahassee to take on the top-ranked Seminoles on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN3.com.