Wake Forest opened the tournament with a match against the CRC-bound Virginia Tech Hokies, who made the most of a bad bounce on the opening kickoff to take a very early 7-0 lead. Wake Forest drove the ensuing kickoff return into Virginia Tech territory, but kicked away possession and gave the Hokies a gap up the sideline, allowing them to extend their lead to 12-0. The Hokies converted a third try before the half, leaving Wake Forest with a 19 point deficit to make up after the break.
The Demon Deacon side found its defensive structure on the opening kickoff and pressured the Hokies to kick away possession. Shifty footwork from freshman Austin Cunningham set up some great offloads and allowed junior Max Wohlmuth to find a seam up the sideline. Splitting two defenders, Max connected with senior Bryce Lambert, who sprinted the remaining 22 meters and scored Wake's first points of the day. Virginia Tech put one more on the board in the second half, but Wake Forest answered back to end the game with the final score of 26-14 in favor of the Hokies.
Wake Forest's momentum spilled over into their first half versus the University of Virginia; the Deacs jumped to a quick 14-7 lead, then conserved their energy and managed the clock for the remainder of the game. During the final minute, the Cavaliers exploited a mismatch that led to a short break up the sideline. Virginia's tight support and sharp offloading skills helped them find the try zone as time expired and the successful conversion left the game in a draw.
In final pool match of the day, the Demon Deacons faced off against Northeastern University, who'd made the drive all the way from Boston. The Deacs drew first blood to start the match 5-0, but the Mad Dogs offered a "Polar Vortex" of pent up energy in response, rebounding to 21-5 at the half and scoring two more tries early in the second half. The Deacs scored once more, but couldn't close the gap on Northeastern's 33-10 lead.
After finishing fourth in pool play, Wake Forest finished out the day with a match against the UNC Tarheels. With both teams coming off just a 45-minute recovery, the match was clearly a battle of wills. The Demon Deacons controlled much of the first half's possession as freshman Eli Groves used selective attacking strategies to score twice, giving Wake a 12-7 lead at the half.
Fresh legs helped boost the Tarheels to a 14-12 lead early in the second half, but a midfield scrum soon gave senior John McMurray the chance to make a 30 meter breakaway. McMurray connected with Austin Cunningham, who took it the rest of the way, putting Wake Forest on top 19-14. The Deacs continued to fight, but relentless effort from UNC earned the Tarheels two late tries and a 28-19 victory.
The Demon Deacons will sit the next ACRL event out since it falls during Wake Forest's spring break, but they will have plenty of time to analyze their film and develop their defensive structure before hosting the following tournament in Winston-Salem on March 22.