Wake Forest Shuts Out Morehead State in NCAA Opener
Nov. 16, 2013
By Alex Botoman, Wake Forest Athletic Communications (WakeWSoccer)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Senior Courtney Owen scored the first goal of her career in her first NCAA Championship start as Wake Forest breezed by Morehead State 2-0 in the first round of the tournament Saturday at Spry Stadium.
Owen's goal in the 19th minute was followed up only 34 seconds later by a score by Riley Ridgik, giving the Demon Deacons (11-6-2) a 2-0 stranglehold on the game that stood up as the final score. The Deacons limited the Eagles (10-11-1) to only four shots en route to the shutout win.
Wake Forest advanced to the second round where it will take on No. 4 seed Penn State on Friday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va.
In what could have been her last game at Spry Stadium, Owen ran onto a Jackie McSally cross at the far post, heading a shot home to get her name on the scoresheet for the first time. Owen was making only the fourth start of her career after playing her way into the lineup with strong performances in practice.
"It was just kind of shock at first," said Owen, referring to her reaction after seeing her header find the back of the net. "It was at the back post where I needed to be and (Jackie McSally) sent a great ball to me, right to my head."
"Everyone loves Courtney and she's a 100 percent team player, so to see her get the goal is so satisfying as a coach," said head coach Tony da Luz. "She had put in a lot of time here and really earned it."
The second goal came almost immediately afterwards. Surrounded by defenders on the touchline, McSally slipped a pass through them that sent Ridgik behind the defense. The junior from Ventura, Calif. ran confidently towards goal, drawing goalkeeper Elizabeth Floyd off her line before dribbling around her and slotting a shot into the vacated net.
The goal was the 11th of the season for the midfielder-turned-forward, tied for the seventh-highest single-season total for a Wake Forest player. The 34 seconds that elapsed between Owen's goal and Ridgik's marked the third-shortest interval between scores in Wake Forest history.
"When we moved Riley up she probably didn't believe 100 percent that she was a forward, but her confidence level has risen, and she has really just taken the responsibility on herself to score goals," said da Luz. "She's a team player, and that's her responsibility playing up front. I think she's become kind of a natural forward, and she's been fantastic in that role."
McSally assisted on both goals, giving her four assists this season - a new career-best mark.
The Demon Deacons kept their seventh shutout of the season with Aubrey Bledsoe making two saves in net to earn the clean sheet. Bledsoe now has 32 shutouts in her career, moving into sole possession of eighth place in ACC history.
Wake Forest will face a test in the second round against a Penn State side that is averaging almost three goals per game. The Demon Deacons and Nittany Lions faced off in the third round of the 2011 NCAA Championship with the Deacons prevailing 4-2 on their way to the College Cup.
"They're a very good team. Their front five is as good as anybody's" said da Luz. "We'll have our hands full defensively, but if we play solid and take advantage of our chances and set pieces, we're there with anybody."
The winner of Friday's second round match will play the winner of the second round match between Georgetown and No. 1 seed Virginia in the third round on Sunday.