Thundering Herd women’s soccer in must-win situation against Charlotte

The Marshall University Thundering Herd women’s soccer team has one game remaining in the regular season, with a potential spot in the conference tournament still undecided. The final game is scheduled to be played Friday against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers.

“It’s win or go home at this point of the season,” head coach Kevin Long said. “Motivation is at an all-time high, there is nothing I can say or do that motivates them more.”

Marshall sits in a precarious position, but if the season were to end today, they would be in the eighth seed, making it to the post season tournament for the fourth consecutive year. There also exist a scenario allowing the Thundering Herd the potential to overtake and finish in the seventh position.

The simple issue is the Thundering Herd have just one game remaining, while two opponents within striking distance in the standings have two. Two more opponents within distance of passing Marshall also have one remaining. That leaves a grand total of six teams battling for two positions, and with the top seeds of the tournament not set, that should mean every conference game remaining still has massive implications.

The overriding theme for Marshall is to win, and hope they get help from other teams. Even if Marshall still wins the match Friday, they can still be left out of post season play. Six teams have clinched tournament berths, although not a single position in the rankings is set. Depending on the weekend match results, Marshall could be as high as seven, or as low as 12 in the standings.

While the possibility of Marshall getting into the post season without a win is severely diminished, a draw would not eliminate them from contention, and a loss would not mathematically eliminate them either.

Standing in the way of the Thundering Herd will be the 49ers. The 49ers have been dominant in home games, but have struggled away from Charlotte. The road record is 2-6-1, while at home the team posted a 7-1-0 record. In conference play, the 49ers have earned a 5-3-1 record. Those results have already earned them a spot in the tournament, which is being played at Charlotte.

The 49ers have two standout threats for offense, Martha Thomas and Megan Greene. Thomas leads the team in goals with nine, while Greene has eight. With those goals scored, Thomas is second overall in the conference, while Greene is tied with two other players for third. Aside from Thomas and Greene, nine other players have scored for the 49ers, compiling a team total of 35 goals this season.

While the offense has been solid for Charlotte, the weakness Marshall will need to exploit to win is Charlotte’s defensive side. Charlotte has allowed 28 goals this season, relying on offense to win games. The 28 goals conceded are fourth most in the league, and 10 more allowed than any other team that has clinched a post season tournament position.

Joseph Ashley can be contacted at [email protected].