Women’s soccer grinds to a halt

The Marshall University women’s soccer team was defeated by Middle Tennessee State University 2-0 Sunday. This changes the Thundering Herd’s overall record 4-6-3 overall with 2-3-1 record in conference.

“They wanted it more, point blank,” Marshall University head coach Kevin Long said after the game. “I think we underestimated the team today, which we have no room to be doing. We were poor in possession and we were poor in beating them to the ball.”

While Long was critical of his team’s effort, he recognized the level of play and strategy used by MTSU.

“They beat us to every ball and they out tackled us. They had a better game plan with the work rate that they had,” Long said.

The first half was evenly matched with possession and both teams held the ball about the same amount of time. Chances were at a premium as both defenses locked up the final thirds. There was only one corner kick and it was taken by MTSU and almost immediately cleared by the Thundering Herd defense.

The best chance to crack the scoreboard was taken by the Blue Raiders when a shot by Haley Nishimoto beat Marshall’s goalkeeper Megan Bonelli, but it bounced off the far post and was immediately cleaned up by the Marshall defense.

The Thundering Herd registered three shots on goal, but each opportunity was taken outside the goal box and was no trouble to save for Blue Raider goalkeeper Celeste Barnard. Thundering Herd goalkeeper Bonelli faced four shots, but only one required saving.

The second half saw the game open up more, but the Thundering Herd play was lagging early and the Blue Raiders took advantage. The advantage slowly built for MTSU, starting as simply possessing the ball for longer sets of time, keeping Marshall’s defense pinned back and unable to gain any rhythm offensively.

The attacking play culminated in a long shot arcing over Bonelli’s head and falling toward the net behind her. Bonelli quickly retreated to defend the attempt, but she was only able to redirect it off the cross bar, having the ball land inches in front of the net with Bonelli falling back into the goal. Angie Lai beat the Thundering Herd defense and simply tapped it in. It was Lai’s first goal of the season, coming 10 minutes into the second half.

A series of precise passes opened up Lai again as she moved toward goal. Bonelli was forced off her line to challenge Lai, but Lai connected one more pass to Salera Jordan. Jordan then scored her sixth goal of the season with over 25 minutes remaining in the contest. Jordan was already leading the team in goals before adding that tally to the list.

After the second goal, Marshall had plenty of time to attempt to salvage a result. However, the Blue Raider defense, in combination with poor touches in the final third, ultimately doomed the Thundering Herd. The Thundering Herd had extremely effective runs from the backline, but a line of Blue Raiders defenders and Thundering Herd attackers effectively barricaded the MTSU net.

The women’s soccer team has four games remaining, with the next two in Florida next weekend. The next women’s soccer home game is scheduled for Oct. 20 against University of Texas at El Paso.

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