Herd soccer falls to Wildcats
HURRICANE -- The Marshall Thundering Herd men's soccer team had chances, but couldn't find the back of the net Thursday and fell to Conference USA foe University of Kentucky, 1-0, at the Hurricane High School soccer complex.
Marshall out-shot the Wildcats 17-11, and worked for more opportunities from set pieces, but, as head coach Bob Gray said, "The ball just didn't bounce our way."
UK broke a scoreless tie in the 54th minute, as a rare lapse in defensive coverage for Marshall allowed junior defenseman Dylan Asher to get loose in the box with the ball. Asher beat Marshall keeper Daniel Withrow low and to the right, tallying his first career goal for UK and only the fifth goal Marshall has conceded this season.
"I thought (UK) was the slightly better side on the night, especially in possession, but I thought we were the more dangerous team when it came to scoring opportunities," Gray said.
Both teams were looking to keep momentum coming off of big wins. Marshall defeated C-USA foe South Carolina last weekend while UK knocked off C-USA power No. 25 UAB.
Marshall forward Anthony Virgara had a chance to put the Herd up in the first half with a one-on-one breakaway that forced a diving save from UK keeper Jack Van Arsdale.
Marshall kept the pressure up after falling behind, and had three solid chances at an equalizer.
Andrew Ferguson hit the post on a blistering volley, and Virgara headed the ball just over the net off a free kick in the waning minutes of the match.
Virgara got one more chance late, striking from the left of the goal from outside the box, but the shot went high and wide.
"I told our guys (UK) put their one good chance away, and we didn't put ours away, so we lost a tough match to a good side, 1-0," Gray said. "Had we gotten the equalizer there at the end, I think we might have won the darned thing in overtime."
Marshall (10-2-1, 2-2-0 C-USA) has had a lot of early success for a team that was a preseason pick to finish at the bottom of C-USA.
The competition from here on out will be tougher than what the Herd faced earlier in the season, but Gray said he thinks his team is on the correct course for a strong conference run.
"That's the way this conference is, there are a lot of one-goal games, and we just have to find a way to get on the winning side of it," he said.
Marshall is without its leading scorer, senior Tom Jackson, because of injury.
There isn't a timetable for Jackson's return, and Gray said he didn't want to rush the New Zealand native's recovery just to have him get hurt again. Still, Gray is hopeful Jackson can step back on the pitch soon.
"Hopefully we'll get him out there doing what he does best, which is score goals, because we certainly need someone out there to put the ball in the back of the net," Gray said.
The win puts UK at 7-6-1 on the season, 2-1-1 in C-USA play.
KENTUCKY 0 1 -- 1
MARSHALL 0 0 -- 0
K -- Asher (Lodge) 54th minute.
Shots: UK 11 (3 on goal), MU 17 (5 on goal). Saves: UK 5 (Van Arsdale), MU 2 (Withrow). Corners: UK 3, MU 4.