Marshall Fails to Capitalize in 2-1 Loss

Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

HUNTINGTON, WV - The Marshall women's soccer team faced Houston in a chilly, damp encounter at Sam Hood Field on Friday night, and came out on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline as the Cougars walked away with a win that may very well have ended the Thundering Herd's postseason hopes.

Heading into the game, Marshall was just two points behind Houston in the Conference USA standings, meaning a win would have elevated the Herd above the Cougars with conference games against Rice and East Carolina still remaining. But despite outshooting its visiting opposition 15-14, Marshall could not manage to outscore a Houston team that put away goals on either side of halftime.

On another night, and with a bit more luck and composure, the Herd may have managed to slot more than one goal beyond Houston goalkeeper Sydney George, but in this match the keeper's six saves proved to be enough for the Cougars to move five points ahead of Marshall in the C-USA standings.

Junior midfielder Sarah Vinson had pulled the Herd back into the game when she cancelled out a 12th minute Sami Sackos' goal with just over 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Senior Katie Ball corralled an Angela DeSumma corner-kick and managed to set-up Vinson in a crowd of players for the tying score. It was the junior's second strike of the season, and sparked Marshall to life for the remainder of the period.

Yet Sackos struck again 13 minutes into the second half, when Jasmine Martinez's well-placed through ball set her free to slot home the game-winning goal past freshman goalkeeper Betsy Haugh. Marshall revved up the pressure in the ensuing minutes, but couldn't make it count as both Megan Tabler and Angela DeSumma came close in the waning moments of the game.

"We have to take ownership of where we are in the season," said Head Coach Kevin Long. "We've had ample opportunities to score this year, but we've missed those chances. Tonight it was good that we came back and showed great resiliency, but from where we were taking our shots, those need to be goals. It's kind of been the story of our season, though, and we need someone to step up and start capitalizing on their shots."

The loss means Marshall is now 3-11-3 on the year and 1-6-2 in the conference, while Houston moves to 3-5-1 in the conference and 6-10-1 overall. With upcoming C-USA matches against Rice on Sunday and against East Carolina on Thursday, the Herd still has a slim chance if it can win out and get help from other teams.
"There's still a remote chance that we make the tournament," said Long. "The stars are going to have to align and some teams are going to have to help us out if we want to have a berth in the postseason, but saying that, we need to move past this game and focus on Sunday."

Sunday will be a must-win for Marshall in a game with more implications than just postseason appearances. Indeed, Sunday will be senior day for the Herd's four graduating seniors - Freya Holdaway, Katie Ball, Megan Tabler, and Angela DeSumma - and the team will be hoping to give them fond memories of a final game at Sam Hood Field with a win over the visiting Rice Owls. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m., and live stats may be viewed here<>.

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