After an overtime loss to Florida Atlantic University on the road, the Marshall University men’s soccer team returns to Huntington Friday to face the University of New Mexico Lobos.
The loss to the Owls Monday extended Marshall’s losing streak to seven games, and with just three games left in the conference schedule, the margin of error has disappeared for the team.
“It’s just been a strange year, it’s frustrating,” head coach Bob Gray said. “You play the ‘what if’ game. We thought we played well enough to beat Kentucky and South Carolina and didn’t put our chances away. So now, we have to put up or shut up because our backs are really against the wall.”
The Herd has the benefit of playing three of its last four matches at home, including Friday’s Homecoming match.
“We’re looking forward to Homecoming,” Gray said. “We rarely get to play during Homecoming here. Usually we’re scheduled to be away, so it’s exciting that we’re going to play Friday night against New Mexico, and hopefully we get a big Homecoming crowd.”
The Lobos come into Friday’s game 7-4-2 overall, and 1-3 in conference play. New Mexico is led offensively by junior midfielder Chris Wehan, who has scored nine goals this season.
“There’s not a lot you can really do to defend a player like that, you just have to be aware of him,” senior defender Nick Edginton said. “It’s not going to be any good for us to concentrate on one because it’s the team that scores goals against other teams.”
The last time Marshall played New Mexico was 2014 in Albuquerque, when the Herd defeated the Lobos 2-1, getting goals from junior midfielder Daniel Jodah and junior midfielder Trevor Starcher.
“How we beat them last year was just defensive work rate,” senior midfielder Jack Hopkins said. “We were solid throughout the back. This year we haven’t been all the time, so we need to practice really hard this week to be a unit in the back.”
The New Mexico game is the first of the final three home games of the season for the Herd. Marshall will also play in Huntington Oct. 27 against Shawnee State University and Oct. 31 against the University of Alabama at Birmingham for Senior Night.
“We’re like a family,” Gray said of the seniors. “I can’t believe that these four years have gone by that fast. What I’m most proud about all of them is that all of them are going to be quality human beings and do well in their lives. We’re going to miss them.”
Kickoff for Friday’s match against New Mexico is set for 7:00 p.m. at Hoops Family Field.
Alec Hildebeidel can be contacted at [email protected]