A heated rivalry will ignite Friday, when the undefeated West Virginia Mountaineers men’s soccer team travels into Huntington to matchup against the Thundering Herd at Hoops Family Field.
After starting the season at the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and attempting to defend its national title, Marshall struggled with just one win in the team’s first three contests. However, the Herd has gotten back to its winning ways, winning each of the last two games on the schedule and with only one loss throughout the team’s first five matchups. Marshall fell in the rankings slightly but remains in the top 25 and will enter Frida’s matchup against WVU as the No. 10 ranked team in the nation.
On the other side, West Virginia has done nothing but soar up the rankings since the beginning of the season. The Mountaineers went from an unranked squad to the No. 5 ranked team in the nation after its first five games of the year. During those five games, West Virginia has relied on its defensive efforts to secure winning results. The Mountaineers have only allowed two goals in four hundred and eighty minutes of play to start the season and have allowed zero goals in their last two games. WVU has outscored its opponents by a total score of 8-2 so far this season. The Mountaineers will enter Friday’s contest against the Herd as the No. 5 team in the nation.
Both teams are coming off impressive wins, where the defenses dominated. In its last contest, West Virginia secured a 1-0 victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes. “Today was just about doing whatever it takes,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “Of course, we want to continue to be a team that plays good soccer, and I’d love us to be clinical enough to score a second goal, but, honestly, the only thing that really counted for me today was that we got the win.”
Marshall is also coming off a 1-0 decision where the team was led by its defense and goalkeeping. “Great win tonight,” Herd head coach Chris Grassie said. “Credit to our lads, we kept digging and we stuck to the game plan very well. That’s been two good performances on the road, and we’re very happy to get our first shut out of the season. Now back to Huntington to prepare for that team up north.”
This marks the third consecutive season that the Marshall Thundering Herd and the West Virginia Mountaineers will battle. WVU won the latest edition of this rivalry in Morgantown last year with a 1-0 decision. Marshall won the year prior, with a 2-1 win at home in Huntington. Prior to that game, these teams had played only one time in history back in 2007, when WVU secured a 3-0 win at home. Marshall looks to tie up the all-time series between these teams with a win Friday against longtime in-state rival WVU. Kickoff off on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m., when the friends of coal will become reacquainted with each other.