Men’s soccer overcomes the Norse

The Marshall University men’s soccer team was victorious against the Northern Kentucky University Norse. This improves the overall record to 4-4-0 while not affecting the conference record, which stands at 0-1.

“We needed to get back on the winning track,” Marshall University head coach Bob Gray said. “I thought we controlled most of the game, we tried a couple new things today, and I thought they worked pretty well.”

One new thing adjusted by coach Gray was the movement of senior Tommy Trupo. Trupo has typically been a stalwart defender locking down the center back position, but he was moved forward into a midfielder role. Trupo appeared much more comfortable in the midfield role, as he allowed play to develop around him, rather than the frantic pace and pressure of the back line.

Another noteworthy adjustment was the usage of senior Daniel Jodah. Jodah has been an offensive instrument in creating Thundering Herd chances to score and maintaining possession. Jodah was on the bench for almost 30 minutes in the first half. Upon entering the game, Jodah provided an immediate boost in offense and possession, as the fresh player was able to outrun opponents that were wore down by the requires of the game.

In the first half, the two competing sides played even. There were chances for goal for both sides, but neither were quality enough to beat Thundering Herd goalkeeper Trevor Clemens and Norse goalkeeper Christian Carey. Both keepers were active as they came out of goal to clean up broken plays, effectively playing as sweepers as well as in goal.

The best opportunity for the Thundering Herd came in the form of a set play on a corner kick. In a back and forth played short corner, the cross entered the box from about 30 yards out. Travelling across goal, the ball connected with the head of Paul Whitener, but went wide.

The Norse had a few quality attempts, but the best was a counter attack started by goal keeper Carey. Carey grabbed a loose ball in the box and quickly blasted a punt, catching the Marshall defense forward and connecting with forward Joey Sabato. Sabato sprinted down the right side of the field carrying the ball, but Clemens was quickly out to challenge Sabato. Sabato juked around Clemens, but was forced to the outside. The added delays caused by Clemens allowed the Marshall defense to recover, and Sabato’s shot met with the Thundering Herd defense and was promptly cleared.

The second half saw a more offensive game take over as both sets of coaches made offensive adjustments. Marshall took the lead on a quick counter attack started by a blocked shot by Arthur Duchesne. The ball deflected to John Pappas who played the ball long to a sprinting Trevor Starcher. Starcher weaved around the defense and made cuts toward goal. With no other option, Carey challenged Starcher, who then played the ball to Daniel Jodah. Jodah had Carey out of position and beat Carey to the near side when he over-pursued an attempt to stop Jodah.

The Thundering Herd added a second goal a few minutes later. In another quick momentum shift, a long ball was played to Duchense up the left side of the field. While Duchense did not have a solid opportunity to score as Carey was in good position, the out-of-position defender fouled Duchense clearly in the penalty box and a penalty kick was awarded to the Thundering Herd. Duchense took the kick and shot it high and to the right, but Carey dived to the left, and was helpless to save the attempt, as he watched it ripple the mesh.

The Norse were not done though, and cut into the Thundering Herd lead. After several threatening offensive possessions, the Norse got a shot into the net. After reversing field with a series of passes, Bryce Day found the ball with only Clemens between him and the net. Day snapped into the ball with good power and placement. Clemens got a glove on the ball, deflecting it to make a save, but the power behind the shot carried it into a defender, and the deflection forced the ball into the Thundering Herd net. The scored remained the same, but the clean sheet was gone.

“We have one senior and at times we will have six freshmen on the field. It’s a rebuilding year for us, so it’s a learning experience,” Northern Kentucky University head coach John Basalyga said.

Basalyga later complimented Marshall coach Bob Gray and the Thundering Herd team.

“Marshall did a nice job and it was a good game, because I enjoy playing Bob Gray,” Basalyga said. “When you play non-league games, you only play people you respect. And we play each other in the spring and the fall some years and I have nothing but the utmost respect for his program and service.”

Marshall will play again Sunday at noon against Florida Atlantic University. This game will be the first home game for conference play.

Joseph Ashley can be reached at [email protected] and @Joseph_AshleyMU on Twitter.