Men’s soccer downs Asbury 4-0

Scott Bolger, Reporter

On a rainy Wednesday night at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex, the Marshall Thundering Herd (6-8-3) men’s soccer team dictated every aspect on the pitch, and that commanding performance led the Herd to a 4-0 victory over the Asbury Eagles (7-10).

Soccer can be played in the harshest of conditions, but that doesn’t mean a surface glistened with precipitation is the best to hone one’s skills on.

“The weather really did factor in,” said Marshall University head coach Bob Gray. “The ball was skipping a lot and it was hard to control. I was a little disappointed in some of our touches and our decision making, but yeah, conditions were tough tonight.”

Marshall did have a few lapses of judgment in the second half, but the first half statistics had Marshall’s stamp on them. The Eagles, out of the NAIA division, finished the first 45 minutes with three shots, none of which were within the dimensions of the goal post. That total equaled Marshall’s shots on goal, as Marshall had a total of 10 shots.

Running from left to right, Marshall’s formation of choice was the 4-3-3. Usually, the Herd works its offense with the first three forwards, and leaves the back seven in place for defensive purposes. Tonight, the Herd offense was gung ho. When forwards Trevor Starcher, Tommy Trupo and Jack Hopkins crossed midfield, right defender Matt Freeman bolted up the right side for a pass and looked for the cross at the 15-yard line. This gradual crosswise process would eventually be a stepping stone to Austin Klueh’s first goal of the season.

In the ninth minute, a Freeman cross to the Asbury goal keeper’s right goal post was just inches to frontward for Trevor Starcher to handle, and a toe-shot just wasn’t enough to change its direction. Luckily, keeper Brian Wood got a hand on it, and allowed for one of Marshall’s six first half corner kicks. Handling the corner duties was midfielder Christian Kershaw and he did so by avoiding the amassed group of players on the right side of the goal and kicking to a lone Nick Edginton in the top left corner of the goal box. Edginton then headed it to defender Austin Kleuh, who was awaiting it in the center of the box. Klueh wasn’t too antsy for the wide open opportunity, as he lightly tipped it in the left side of Wood’s net.

“The goal was good,” said Klueh. “We were looking to get off to a fast start. Coaches were stressing speed of play and getting on them and that’s what we did. We got two early goals, but we were looking for a couple more in the first half, but we came out in the second half and put a couple more away. We were pleased.”

Forward Scott Doney was blatantly tripped up in the upper right corner of the goal box, giving the referee no choice but to award Marshall with a penalty kick. The Herd chose midfielder Ryan Forde for the one-on-one opportunity, and he capitalized with a goal in an identical spot to Klueh’s.

The second half was very anticlimactic, and maybe it was due to the rain. Marshall seemed to let up on its gas pedal a bit, as its strategy dwindled down from crosses to the box from 15 yards out to lob passes from 30-40 yards out. They did however stick to their strategy in bringing up Freeman from the four-man back line, but one moment of lackadaisical play led to the only shot on goal from Asbury in the 46th minute. Luckily for Marshall, keeper Dominik Reining dropped to his knees and corralled the straight forward attempt with ease.

Marshall’s two other goals came from a beautiful cross 13 yards out from Danny Selletti to a rushing, heading Edginton and an own goal from Marshall’s 9th corner kick. Kershaw’s ninth corner of the game hit off the back of an Asbury defender, and because of the descending velocity of the curved kick, the ball ricocheted of the defenders back and went in.

This week features non-conference games versus Asbury and Concord Saturday, and with the Conference USA tournament coming up, Marshall did and plans to rest its top players while utilizing its depth.

“The schedule is not how we originally intended it, but it did work out pretty good that we got a couple games here now to prepare for next Wednesday,” Gray said. “They’ll be different types of games, obviously, but it’s good for fitness, it’s good for touches and it’s good to work on our set pieces.”

Scott Bolger can be contacted at [email protected]