Marshall back to winning way
HURRICANE -- Keeper Daniel Withrow made nine saves and leading scorer Tom Jackson returned to the pitch and notched a goal as the Marshall Thundering Herd's men's soccer team defeated the Florida International Panthers, 2-0 , Tuesday night at Hurricane High School.
The win breaks a two-game losing skid in Conference USA for the Herd, and keeps them in contention for a postseason berth.
Marshall was heavily out-shot in the contest, but got more quality chances at the goal than their opponent.
MU coach Bob Gray said he thought his team came out a bit flat, while FIU came out ready to play.
But when the Herd started to string some passes together, FIU struggled to hold its defensive line and account for opponents heading toward the net.
Marshall got its first goal in the 34th minute, as Peter Bulat sent a cross curling away from the left side of the goal that defender Matt Freeman was able to run on to from the right unmarked.
Freeman sent in a one-touch volley that beat FIU keeper Robin Spiegel high, and put Marshall up, 1-0.
The Herd continued to struggle with possession issues, and looked a bit worn out toward the end of the contest, but never broke down at any point.
"I told the guys at halftime that we got a get out of jail free card for the first 20 minutes because we were awful," Gray said. "We did what we had to do. It wasn't one of our best performances, but we'll take the win."
FIU dominated possession for the last 20 minutes of the contest, but couldn't convert that effort into shots on goal.
When the Panthers did get a shot away, it was usually right at Withrow, who was able to bring the ball into his chest.
"He made some nice saves, but, more importantly, he managed the game well," Gray said. "He put the defenders in the right places all night. It was a solid effort from him."
After a flurry of attempts late, Withrow sent a long kick down the right side of the field as midfielder Devin Perkins broke free on a counter attack.
Perkins attempted to run under the ball but was hauled down in the penalty area, and the Herd was awarded a penalty kick.
Jackson, who has been out for several games with a knee injury, stepped to the penalty spot and took the strike, easily putting it past Spiegel to give the Herd a 2-0 lead in the 87th minute.
Gray quickly subbed Jackson out after the goal, his eighth of the season.
"It was a big boost for us to get Tom Jackson back," Gray said. "He's a spark for us and he played hard. We were a bit worried because he took a few hits, but he kept getting back up and that's big for us because we're going to need him down the stretch."
The Herd (11-3-1, 3-3-0, C-USA) next travels to Dallas to play conference leader SMU on Sunday, then returns home for their last game of the regular season against UCF.
The loss drops FIU to 7-6-3 overall, 0-5-1 in C-USA.
FIU 0 0 -- 0
MARSHALL 1 1 -- 2
M -- Freeman (Balut, Jesus Mafouta) 34th minute.
M -- Jackson (PK) 87th minute.
Shots: FIU 21, MU 8. Saves: FIU 0 (Spiegel), MU 9 (Withrow). Corners: FIU 5, MU 3.