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The Herd's Jan-Erik Leinhos (30), from right, slides underneath Charlotte's Axel Sigurdarson (11) to steal the ball as the Marshall University men's soccer team takes on Charlotte during the Conference USA Regular Season Championship on Sunday, April 18, 2021, in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — As Marshall men’s soccer coach Chris Grassie looked at his opponent for the NCAA College Cup, he didn’t have to search to hard to understand the philosophy that his team will face.

Grassie and Fordham coach Carlo Acquista are well acquainted from the time that Grassie was at the University of Charleston and Acquista was at Adelphi during each’s run to success on the Division II level.

“I know Colin from his time at Adelphi,” Grassie said. “We matched up when I was at Charleston. He’s a friend, so I’m excited to get with him again.”

Their newest meeting has them at the pinnacle of NCAA Division I — the NCAA College Cup, which features 36 of the top teams in collegiate soccer.

Marshall and Fordham meet at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Gillette Field in Wilson, North Carolina.

Both teams come in with an offensive-minded philosophy.

Fordham ranks No. 33 in Division I soccer in goals scored at 1.9 per game while Marshall is around 1.6 goals per game.

The one advantage that Marshall has coming into the match is a stingy defense that is among the best in collegiate soccer.

In 13 matches, Marshall has conceded just six goals, giving the Herd a 0.4 goals against average — the fourth-best in collegiate soccer.

And right behind them?

You guessed it. Fordham, who has allowed five goals in nine games for a 0.5 goals allowed average.

Much of the success defensively has come based on each team’s ability to possess the ball and dictate a game’s tempo, which will be the give-and-take in Sunday’s match.

Grassie said that, despite Fordham’s success, he will still look for his team to play its style of game as the two look to advance in the NCAA College Cup.

“We’ve created a ton of chances this year, we know, and now we’re starting to find our groove a little bit, so it won’t change much about the way we prepare for them,” Grassie said.

Marshall comes in at 9-2-2 after defeating Charlotte, 2-0, in the final Conference USA weekend of the season, giving the Herd the C-USA Championship and automatic bid into the NCAA College Cup.

The Herd was one of three Conference USA teams to make the 36-team field, joining Charlotte and Kentucky, whom the Herd also defeated in Lexington, 1-0.

Fordham is 7-0-2 on the season and won the Atlantic 10 Championship with a 2-0 victory over George Washington, which gave the Rams the automatic berth into the College Cup field, as well.

The winner of Sunday’s match will meet the victor of No. 1 Clemson and American, which will also be played on Sunday. That match will take place on Thursday in Cary, North Carolina.

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