Photo courtesy of Adam Gue
With 7:30 left in the second overtime period of the 2019 Conference USA Championship match, junior midfielder Pedro Dolabella headed the soccer ball into the goal to claim the 2019 Conference USA men’s soccer title for the Marshall University Thundering Herd over the Charlotte 49ers, 1-0.
“I can’t imagine an ending like this,” Dolabella said. “We’ve been overlooked, and we proved again that we are the best team. Whatever happens, we are the best. Everybody deserves it. Nobody works harder than we do. So, for all the Marshall fans, everybody in Huntington, this is for you. We love you. We are Marshall.”
The No. 1 seed and 13th ranked Herd improved to 15-2-3 (5-1-1 C-USA) while the 49ers fell to 11-3-4 (4-0-3 C-USA) and lost its third consecutive C-USA Championship match.
The Herd’s 15 wins set a team history record number of wins in a single season. This title is the first for the Herd and earned the team a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Paulo Pita had six saves throughout the match for the Herd while Charlotte’s goalkeeper Elliot Panicco had four saves for the 49ers.
Dolabella was named Tournament Offensive MVP and senior defender Carlos Diaz-Salcedo was named Tournament Defensive MVP. Sophomore midfielder Vinicius Fernandes and sophomore defender/midfielder Collin Mocyunas were also named to the All-Tournament Team.
Herd Head Coach Chris Grassie said he was very happy for his team and its success. Grassie spoke very highly of each players’ performance.
“I’m extremely pleased for our lads,” Grassie said per HerdZone. “They were immense. Charlotte is a very difficult team to play again. And the strong wind made things very interesting, particularly in the first half. But we held strong and were brave enough to try and make the game.”
The NCAA announced that Marshall will be the No. 11 seed in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament and received a first-round bye. The Herd will host a second-round match, and face the winner of the West Virginia (9-8-2) and Butler (11-6-2) match on Nov. 21, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 at Hoops Family Field.
Earlier this season, Marshall faced the Bulldogs in Huntington on Sept. 6 and defeated the team with a final score of 2-1, with those two goals coming from junior forward Jamil Roberts.
Marshall and West Virginia have not played each other since 2004 in Morgantown.
“We just have to prepare for Sunday now,” Grassie said per HerdZone. “We have one potential opponent (Butler) who we know very well and very good friends with their staff. With Butler and WVU, if it is WVU, it would be a very nice event here. Whoever we play, I know these guys will give it their best and I would think we would have to be favorites going into the game.”
Taylor Huddleston can be contacted at [email protected]