It's the No. 1 seed against the No. 8 seed, top-ranked and unbeaten Wake Forest against N.C. State in Wednesday's ACC quarterfinals. A mismatch? Hardly. The Wolfpack is one of the hottest teams in the country, and Coach George Tarantini is relishing the opportunity to take on the mighty Demon Deacons.
Ronnie Bouemboue scored two N.C. State goals, including the game-winner midway through the second half, as the eighth-seeded Wolfpack defeated ninth-seeded Virginia Tech, 3-1, in the opening round of the ACC Tournament Tuesday in Cary, N.C., for its fourth straight win and sixth in seven matches.
"It's a wonderful opportunity," Wolfpack coach George Tarantinisaid. "Just imagine, we're getting ready to play the No. 1 team in the country. It's one of the greatest things that can happen. We're playing the defending national champions, a wonderful team. They've got speed, they've got talent, they're well coached. It's a wonderful problem we're facing."
Led by Bouemboue and Alan Sanchez, the Wolfpack has rebounded from a 1-5-1 start to go 8-3-0 in its last 11 games. Bouemboue and Sanchez, both second-team All-ACC picks, have combined for 21 goals. The defense, which gave up 25 goals in its first 11 games, has limited the opposition to five goals in the last seven games. In a 2-0 at Duke on Friday night, the Wolfpack defense held the Blue Devils to two shots on goal.
"Our players decided in the middle of the season that they wanted to win -- despite what anyone said, despite what anyone told them -- and that's what happened," Tarantini said. "We've become a family. We play with emotion, we try hard, and that's been the difference."