Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

GREENVILLE, N.C.- For Angela DeSumma and the rest of the seniors on the Thundering Herd women’s soccer team, there was not a playoff berth at stake, only pride. Having received word earlier in the week that their team would not be making its second consecutive trip to the Conference USA tournament, Thursday night’s trek to ECU would be bittersweet as DeSumma, Freya Holdaway, Megan Tabler, and Katie Ball took the field for one final match.

Marshall entered the game with a 4-11-3 overall record and a 2-6-2 conference mark, and were underdogs to an East Carolina Pirates team that boasted a 9-6-1 record and a 4-5-0 standing in league play. From the first whistle, the Pirates set out to impose their will on the Marshall visitors, and did so by taking 12 shots in goalkeeper Lindsey Kern’s direction. Unfortunately for the Herd, one of those strikes managed to go in, as ECU’s Chrissy Gratz scored her first goal of the season in the 32nd minute of play.

But never one to go out without a bang, Angela DeSumma replied with a 30-plus yard effort that streaked into the upper corner of the net for the tying score with five minutes to play in the opening period. It was the senior’s sixth goal of the season, and a fitting, final goal for the Marshall midfielder’s storied career.

Yet after the start of the second half, the Pirates resumed their peppering of the Marshall goal and forced Kerns to make an astonishing 11 saves on the night. The Herd fought hard to create its own chances, but eventually succumbed to Amanda Malkiewicz’s seventh goal of the season; a laser from ten yards out that eluded the hands of Kerns for the go-ahead goal in the 58th minute.

It was a harsh blow for a Marshall team that didn’t cease fighting, but in the end it proved to be enough to clinch a 2-1 win for the Pirates and condemn the Herd to a 4-12-3 season. Head Coach Kevin Long will now look to regroup and refocus his team as it prepares for the next season, and a season without its leading scorer (DeSumma), starting center back (Freya Holdaway), starting left back (Katie Ball), and starting outside midfielder (Megan Tabler) there to take the field.