Women’s soccer overcomes Charlotte 49ers

The Marshall University Thundering Herd overcame the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers 2-1 Friday. This was the last home game for women’s soccer this season.

The game was of special note for three members of the Thundering Herd, as it was the last time Jordan Parkhurst, Kayla Byrnside and Sydney Arnold will wear the Kelly green. Each of those players played a pivotal role to win in the contest.

Charlotte started quickly, taking advantage of early possession and taking play at the Thundering Herd. It was from the early possessions that the 49ers struck.

After a series of possessions deep in Marshall’s defensive end, Charlotte earned a corner kick. Charlotte’s Riley Orr played the ball long to Megan Greene at the far post, who headed the ball in past Thundering Herd goal keeper Megan Bonelli. The goal came just 10 minutes into the match.

While the Senior Night crowd lost some intensity, the goal seemed to awaken the intensity in the Thundering Herd and increase their resolve. After the goal, Marshall maintained much more possession and played at a faster speed.

Arnold took to the right sideline, testing the 49ers defense, but to no avail. The Thundering Herd maintained possession and switched the point of attack to the left, finding Jordan Parkhurst in the open about 30 yards from goal.

Parkhurst blasted a shot toward the wide side of the goal, arcing toward the right upper 90. Charlotte goal keeper Anna Shelden got a hand, but Parkhurst’s shot was too well placed to stop and rippled the back of the net. The Parkhurst goal tied the game less than eight minutes after Charlotte’s initial lead.

After that point, the teams shared possession. The defenses shored up on both sides, and play was confined to the middle third of the field. Bonelli and Shelden were mostly untested for the remainder of the first half, but were called upon to make plays with their feet.

Marshall started the second half with the clear goal of extending their season, controlling the clear majority of possession from the half’s opening kickoff. After a quick series of passes, the Thundering Herd quickly turned that possession into opportunity.

The opportunity started from Ashley Seltzer, as she dribbled down the right sideline. Seltzer played the ball inside, finding Byrnside, who took a shot at goal. Deflections slowed the ball, but allowed it to get deep into the penalty area, and the ball landed at the feet of Arnold. Arnold tapped the ball in and scored her fifth goal of the year. The goal came just five minutes into the second half.

From that point, Marshall pounced on possession, seeking to win the game solely from not allowing Charlotte a chance to possess the ball. The updated strategy initiated by Coach Long immediately paid massive dividends, as Marshall maintained possession at one point for eight minutes consecutively in the second half.

Although Charlotte threatened offensively, Bonelli and the Marshall defense sealed off the Thundering Herd goal. The attempts came sporadically, as Marshall’s possession left the 49ers little time to force the ball toward Marshall’s goal. Charlotte did not hold the ball for over two consecutive minutes in the second half.

The post season fate of the Thundering Herd is still not decided yet, and will be determined Sunday. There remains only one spot available, and it is down to Marshall or Old Dominion University. While Marshall’s regular season is finished, Old Dominion will play Florida International University Sunday afternoon. A tie or an Old Dominion loss will put Marshall into the tournament.

Joseph Ashley can be reached at [email protected].