WFU
Stengel

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wake Forest’s top scorers Katie Stengel and Rachel Nuzzolese both found the back of the net as the top-seeded Demon Deacons took care of Summit League champion Oakland in the opening round of the NCAA tournament at Spry Stadium on Friday.

The Deacons (15-4-3) advance to face the winner of the Boston University and Harvard matchup.

Stengel also assisted on Nuzzolese’s goal to notch her sixth multi-point game of the season. Alisha Woodson picked up her second assist of the year on Stengel’s goal.

The Deacons dominated  possession for the entire match, outshooting the Golden Grizzlies 27-2, and the score line could have been much more lopsided if not for a Herculean effort by Oakland goalkeeper Anne Berschbach who made a career-high 13 saves. The Demon Deacons' 27 shots and 15 shots on goal were their highest totals of the season.

“I thought we moved the ball really well and spread them out as much as we could,” head coach Tony da Luz said. “[We scored] two good goals for sure, but we had a lot of chances on crosses that we should have done better with. We got the shutout and we were pretty clean in the back, so overall, I’m pretty happy with the performance. It’s good to get this game under your belt and learn how to host these things.”

Stengel, the ACC’s Offensive Player of the Year, has now scored 15 goals and 36 points this season, both totals one shy of the school records that she set as a freshman in 2010. Nuzzolese has also moved up the scoring charts with five goals and 13 points in her last six matches. Stengel has netted 11 goals this season, tied for sixth on the school single-season scoring charts.

“Rachel has been lighting it up,” da Luz said. “I was really happy to see Katie set her up for a goal because they are both drawing a lot of defenders, so if they can draw those defenders and then find somebody unselfishly then that should result in some pretty easy goals.”

Aubrey Bledsoe had to make only one relatively easy save in net to earn her 12th shutout of the season, extending her Wake Forest single-season record and pushing her career clean sheet total to 15.

The Deacs controlled the tempo from the outset, taking the first nine shots of the game. Katie Stengel came close to giving Wake Forest the lead in the 20th minute when she headed a shot from nine yards toward the top left corner, forcing Berschbach to make a diving stop.

Wake Forest finally broke through in the 34th minute. Amanda Howell played a ball out wide on the left to Alisha Woodson, who played a low cross into box that Stengel collected in front of goal and hit a shot into the back of the net.

Stengel almost doubled her total in the 71st minute, one-timing a powerful volley that Berschbach was in the perfect position to stop.

Nuzzolese netted the Deacons’ insurance goal in the 80th minute on a play similar to Wake Forest’s first goal. This time it was Stengel that drove hard to the end line on the right, getting a step on her defender and playing a low cross into the box. The pass found Nuzzolese a yard outside the six-yard box and she clinically finished the chance to push the Deacon advantage to 2-0.