Men’s soccer heads to UAB for penultimate regular-season game

Coming off a 1-0 win against Florida Atlantic, the Marshall men’s soccer team is set to play the penultimate game of its regular season Saturday at Bartow Arena against the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Despite having a 7-2-2 record, Marshall has gone winless in two of its last three games, resulting in a drop from No. 8 to No. 12 in the national rankings.

Herd head coach Chris Grassie said that the last three games have been similar in terms of toughness despite the different outcomes.

“We needed (to win),” Grassie said about the victory over FAU. “I think it was a very similar performance from the last two games, but we just happened to get the win this time.”

Marshall fell to West Virginia and played to a draw with Old Dominion in the other two games of the three-game stretch.

The Herd’s next opponent, UAB (3-10-1, 1-3-1), leads the all-time series, 10-5-1, including a 6-0-1 record at home. The last matchup, in 2018, was a 1-1 tie.

Grassie said that the key to Marshall’s success is to keep creating opportunities for shots even if they are not always going in.

“We created a lot of chances (against FAU),” Grassie said. “We worked on finishing all week and I think it is just continuing to believe and not getting too anxious and too frustrated.”

Marshall sophomore midfielder Joao Souza scored the only goal of the game in the Herd’s previous matchup against the Owls even though Marshall outshot FAU 23-4.

Souza said that he was thankful to be in the right position to score the goal.

“I didn’t know Milo (Yosef) was going to miss because he always put (the ball) in the net,” Souza said. “The ball was right in front of me, and I just put it in the net.”

Although Marshall has struggled to put the ball in the net of late, the defense has been stout.

Marshall has shut out its opponents in six of its 11 games and have not allowed more than two goals in any of the matchups.

The Herd remains atop the Conference USA standings with a 4-0-1 record, good for 13 points. Charlotte sits closely behind with a 4-0 record and 12 points.

If the top of the rankings hold serve, then a huge matchup will be in store in Huntington between Marshall and Charlotte, winner representing the conference in the NCAA tournament.

But before that season-defining matchup, Marshall must take care of business against UAB at 2 p.m. Saturday. The game will air on CUSA-TV.

Noah Hickman can be contacted at [email protected].