WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Senior forward Justin Dhillon's 12th-minute goal provided the Cal Poly men's soccer program the opening lead versus No. 5 Wake Forest Sunday evening, but the Demon Deacons responded with two first-half goals – the latter with two seconds remaining before halftime – as the Mustangs dropped a 2-1 decision at Spry Stadium.
Junior goalkeeper Eric Kam recorded four saves for Cal Poly (0-2-0) in his first collegiate start, but in the first meeting between the two programs, Wake Forest (1-1-0) outshot the Mustangs, 16-12.
Wake Forest was the highest ranked opponent Cal Poly had faced on the road since defeating No. 6 UCLA 3-0 in 2013.
Dhillon (above), Cal Poly's active career leader with nine collegiate goals, provided the Mustangs the 1-0 lead in the 12th minute, taking a feed from senior midfielder Ruben Duran and striking the program's first goal of 2016 into the top left corner of the Wake Forest net.
Kam was forced into his first save in the 13th and Cal Poly kept Wake Forest to just two shot attempts during the opening 20 minutes. Cal Poly's lead lasted just eight minutes, however, as Demon Deacons midfielder Jacori Hayes pounced onto a loose ball in the Mustang penalty box and slipped it into the Cal Poly goal.
Cal Poly enjoyed multiple chances to regain its lead in the first half with freshman forward Kenneth Higgins turned away by Wake Forest goalkeeper Andreu Cases Mundet in the 14th minute. Higgins, making his first collegiate start, then streaked down the right sideline in the 37th to find Dhillon, who fired wide of the right post. Cal Poly's best opportunity came two minutes later as senior defender Kody Wakasa saw a header repelled on the goal line by Mundet.
The Mustangs survived a 30th-minute goal from Wake Forest forward Ema Twumasi that was ruled offsides, but, with two seconds remaining in the half, a corner taken by midfielder Bruno Lapa that fell in the penalty area and Twumasi bicycled the Demon Deacons into the 2-1 lead.
Cal Poly enjoyed two shot attempts in the second half with the best opportunity ending with junior forward Kaba Alkebulan firing wide of the left post in the 62nd.
At the other end of Spry Stadium, Kam collected two second-half saves to keep the match at 2-1.
Cal Poly's four-game, season-opening road trip continues on Friday, Sept. 2 versus Air Force in a 3 p.m. PT match hosted by New Mexico. The Mustangs then face New Mexico on Sunday, Sept. 4.