Marshall defeats defending national champions No. 8 Georgetown in the Elite 8

Moving On, No. 10 Men’s Soccer Advances to Final Four

Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone

CARY, N.C. – The journey of the 10th-ranked Marshall men's soccer team continues as the Herd defeated the defending national champions, No. 8 Georgetown Hoyas, 1-0 on Monday at WakeMed Field. The Thundering Herd advances to the Final Four at the College Cup for the first time in program history.


 
The Thundering Herd waits to find out who its next opponent will be in either No. 5 seed Wake Forest or North Carolina. The match will be played on Friday, May 14, at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
 
Marshall improves to 11-2-3 while the season comes to an end for the Hoyas at 10-2-2.
 
"That was a completely different game then Clemson," Herd head coach Chris Grassie said. "I think we struggled with the first 20 minutes just trying to get our legs back from the previous games. But once we got into it and we sorted some things out tactically, I thought we were terrific. I thought that it was only ever going to be us that were going to win it.
 
"We were smart in how we put numbers forward when we did put them forward and the goal was terrifically well done from one side of the pitch to the other and back across. I was thrilled.
 
"And then toward the end, I knew they were going to throw crazy numbers forward and they are all skillful. It was a bit of a slog for the last eight or nine minutes there, but I thought the lads did really well."
 
Marshall has had quite a trip through its second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The Herd began with a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 23 Fordham in the second round. Next, Marshall played all 110 minutes and then finally took down No. 1 Clemson, 7-6, in penalty kicks to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time. And now, the Herd has defeated the 2019 National Champions to move on to the Final Four.
 
"This is the no asterisk, national championship game for us," coach Grassie said. "We played the number one, we played last year's champion and then UNC and Wake are two storied programs, whoever wins that one. But there are all great teams left. For us it is just another day. We will prepare the same way we did. We will get back together, regroup, also take a moment to recharge emotionally because these matches take a lot out of you emotionally as well as physically. So we will take a couple days to relax and get back to it."
 
Herd junior goalkeeper Oliver Semmle and the defense delivered its ninth shutout of the year. The program single season record is 10 set in 2012. Semmle tallied two saves including one with 45 seconds left on the clock.
 
"I looked up at the clock and it was 10 minutes to go, and then 20 minutes later I looked up and it was eight minutes to go," Semmle said when asked about the end of the match. "It felt like it was so long, but I think we did a good job to rub them out so I think it was a deserved win.
 
"Our goal is to win a national championship so it is not a surprise for us. We want to go far, and I think we already went far. But, we are not done yet and we want to go and win the title."
 
The first half saw the teams working to get into a rhythm, and the Hoyas took the first four shots of the match through the first 23 minutes. However, none were on goal for Georgetown. The Herd's first shot came in the 30th minute off a free kick from Schneider. The kick from just over 30 yards away sailed toward the top of the goal, but Giannis Nikopolidis was there to knock it away. Senior Jamil Roberts had a chance in the 36th minute that was also saved. The teams went in at the half scoreless.
 
In the second half, the Hoyas had the first chance with a shot in the 49th minute that Semmle swallowed up for his first save of the day. Finally, in the 70th minute, junior Vitor Dias showed off his skillful moves working his way around the defense to the far side of the goal. Dias then delivered a cross to Roberts on the near side for the easy tap in, giving Marshall the 1-0 lead.
 
"You may have noticed that Vitor (Dias) is pretty skillful," coach Grassie said talking about the Herd's goal. "He has a way where he shows the defender the ball a little bit, then he drops his shoulder and it looks like he is running really slowly but the defender can't keep up with him. He went across, had some nice little movement in there, he is a special dribbler. And then he flicked it on and Jamil (Roberts) was there to tap it in. We love tap ins."
 
It was Roberts' third goal of the season and 17th of his career. Dias tallied his fifth assist to tie Roberts for the team lead.
 
Georgetown then went on the attack and used many substitutions over the final 20 minutes. However, the Herd's defense was excellent, holding the Hoyas to just one shot attempt coming in the final minute that was again gathered up by Semmle. Georgetown gave one last effort to move the ball back to the attacking third when senior Pedro Dolabella intercepted the attempt and launched a high kick deep downfield as the clock expired.