Last-Minute Goal Haunts Herd in 1-0 Loss
Thundering Herd Falls to UCF in Season Finale
Nov. 3, 2012
HURRICANE, W.Va. -- The Marshall University men’s soccer team had its season come to an abrupt end on Saturday night when UCF scored a goal in the final three seconds of play to hand the Thundering Herd its fifth Conference USA loss of the season and eliminate the team from postseason contention.
Marshall (11-5-1, 3-5) found itself in a must-win scenario sitting three points behind UCF (8-6-3, 5-3) in the conference standings, but was unable to muster a go-ahead goal despite outshooting the Knights 20-10 through 90-minutes of regulation. In the end, UCF’s Eduardo Jimenez needed just the final three seconds of the match to doom the Herd with a well-struck volley following a corner kick by teammate Omar Vallejo.
The Herd’s senior goalkeeper, Daniel Withrow, made two saves on the night, while freshman Andrew Ferguson led all players with five shots. Senior Tom Jackson and sophomore Jahvon Allison also chipped-in with four attempts each, but neither was able to convert the chances into goals. UCF’s 1-0 win keeps the Knights unbeaten against Marshall for the fifth straight match and officially secures the Orlando-based team’s progress to the C-USA Championships.
“Obviously it’s a very tough loss for the team,” said head coach Bob Gray after the match. “When you look back, this season boiled down to less than two minutes: losing to UAB in the last minute of play, to SMU in sudden death overtime, and to UCF with three seconds left. It’s tough to go undefeated in non-conference play, set a new shutout record, and still not make the conference tournament. Unfortunately our offense just couldn’t get it going in these last few games, but that doesn’t take anything away from the incredible group of seniors who helped lead our team this year. This was a great group of guys who had a lot of success here at Marshall. They had to play a lot of games on the road this season, and didn’t complain at all. They are outstanding young men with bright futures ahead of them.”
Indeed, Marshall’s senior class of Withrow, Jackson, Devin Perkins, Aaron Dini, Peter Bulat, Eddy Prugh, Fayanga Keita, and Cade Parton has played a huge part in the program’s recent success, accounting for 38 wins, 33 goals, and 22 shutouts in a four-year span. This season, they helped lead the team to a new single-season shutout record and its third-highest winning percentage in program history.
Yet even in the midst of going undefeated in non-conference play and winning 11 games for the first time since 2001, Marshall’s 2012 season came to a close with Saturday’s loss. In the end, the Herd’s nine points from three wins in C-USA play were not enough to secure a top-six finish in the league and the associated spot in the C-USA Championships. The team will now regroup and prepare for what should be an exciting 2013 season at its new soccer facility back in Huntington.