Men's College Cup: Marshall completes improbable run to championship

Men's college soccer has a long history in West Virginia, dating back to the late 1960s, but it seen nothing like Marshall's Thundering Herd.

Marshall, which had never previously advanced as far as the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Men's Tournament, defeated eight-time champion Indiana, 1-0, in Monday's championship game in Cary, North Carolina.

It was a familiar script. Like in the quarterfinals against defending champion Georgetown and semifinals against ACC power North Carolina, the Thundering Herd won, 1-0, on a goal by Jamil Roberts.

The third of Roberts' hat trick of game-winners was the most dramatic. It was the golden goal in the 98th minute, coming after Brazilian All-American Vitor Dias fired a shot that was blocked and had his rebound attempt stopped by IU keeper Roman Celentano. But the ball bounced up and deflected off the post, where Roberts was standing, and the Sporting KC draft pick from Newcastle, United, smashed it into the goal.



The goal set off wild celebrations among the hundreds of Marshall supporters who had traveled to Cary for the final and hoisted Roberts in the air. Similar displays took place in city of Huntington, which closed off 9th Street between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue to allow restaurants to set host watch parties for the Marshall game.

"Not bad for a little school from West Virginia with a bunch of internationals, eh?" said Roberts, one of nine foreign students in the Herd's starting lineup.

Marshall is the fifth West Virginia school to win a national men's soccer championship and gives the state two reigning champions.

Davis & Elkins was a national power, winning the NAIA title in 1968 and 1970 under Coach Greg Myers and finishing second in 1969 and 1971. D&E's star was goalkeeper Bill Nuttall, who joined Myers when he moved to the NASL's Miami Toros and later became the U.S. men's national team general manager. Another member of the 1968 and 1970 national championship teams was Hank Steinbrecher, later U.S. Soccer's general secretary.

West Virginia Wesleyan later won five NAIA titles with three different coaches (Tom Martin, Derrick Leeson and Gavin Donaldson) before the Bobcats affiliated with the NCAA Division II.

Charleston won the NCAA Division II title in 2017 and 2019 after finishing second in 2014 and 2016, and Bethany won the 1994 Division III title.

May 17 in Cary, N.C.
Marshall 1 Indiana 0. Goal: Roberts 98.
Marshall -- Semmle, Dossantos, Fernandes, Dolabella, Roberts, Alves, Mocyunas, Schneider, Leinhos, Yosef, Dias. Substitutes: Souza,.
Indiana -- Celentano, Maher, Palazzolo, Munie, Schmidt, Sessock, Goumballe, Endeley, Bebej, Bezerra, Warr. Substitutes: Wittenbrink, B.Yeagley, Ward.
Att.: 5,000.

16 comments about "Men's College Cup: Marshall completes improbable run to championship".
  1. schultz rockne, May 18, 2021 at 11:53 a.m.

    Those dynamic soccer-brained foreign students made Marshall so palatable to watch. They certainly did attack!

  2. Wooden Ships replied, May 18, 2021 at 12:18 p.m.

    Very skilled defenders too. A good game to watch. 

  3. Peter Bechtold, May 18, 2021 at 12:39 p.m.

    A classic example of two contrasting styles: on one side, "Soccer brains" from abroad as s.r. says above, and on the other what Frank Schoon would describe as homegrown "turbos". The Marshall players slowed down the game by circulating the ball with one-touch, rarely seen in US college soccer.

  4. James Madison, May 18, 2021 at 1:51 p.m.

    Amen, brother Bechtold.  But even Indiana played with a plan.  The result was a model for college soccer,  instead of the helter-skelter style we so often see.

  5. frank schoon, May 18, 2021 at 3:22 p.m.

    The game was enjoyable to watch ONLY because of Marshall. Talk about Turbo soccer. There was nothing creative about the Univ of Indiana team. How can Indiana be even ranked 3rd in the Nation tells you how bad soccer is.  Sorry but Indiana Univ. represent to me the level of state of soccer of US players.  This #7 who is suppose to be All-American for Indiana couldn't, as far as I'm concerned,make the Marshall team.

    Look at how much space the Indiana team gave the Marshall team around midfield or everywhere.
    Notice how Marshall played ,they hardly allowed any contact with the opponents and therefore hardly ever saw any 50/50 battles for passes which one notices so often in Turbo style soccer.
    I don't think the Marshall even took a shower after the game.....Indiana should have taken a technical team like Marshall to task by playing tight man to man not giving them any space or time....and could have easily done when you have Turbo....But instead, Indiana gave them space and time, the smart players of Marshall would run behind the Indiana players ,who are watching the ball, to receive a pass.  Indiana played with IQ of about 20 less points than what Marshall had....

    I read the other day in SA how many foreign players are playing college ball. I hate to see our boys not getting the scholarships but when I watch Indiana play then I'm glad we're bringing in foreigners like Marshall did who can at least playsome ball .

  6. frank schoon, May 18, 2021 at 3:41 p.m.

    What frustrates me is that our American boys are not being trained well by our American coaches.PERIOD!!!  All I see out there are bunch of stiffs out there with a licensed to coach but who can't do anything with a ball. Our American coaches have no clue how to produce good technical players....All we produce are A-level licensed coaches, as called by Wiel Coerver called  them at one time "paper poopers" , "potted plants"...computer programmers....

    Cruyff once stated that a kid playing today on the wing ,if he asked his coached to teach him 5 moves, the coach would feint....Sorry guys, but I've have had with the American coaching experience as far as  developing our players...it's a joke. Just look at the Indiana Univ. kids. they don't have a clue how to play in small spaces, look at how fast they lose the ball upon getting it. There is no shake and bake with our players ,they play like stiffs ....compare that to the Marshall player on the edge of the penalty by the Indiana goal with nice footwork and almost scored on the shot. How 'bout in the second half, from a cross the Brazilian kid just trapped the ball dead.....

    I'm not blaming the Yeagley for this poor team but only the process that led up to Yeagley receiving these level of players for college soccer. But then again, Yeagley like so many are also part and parcel of the American coaching/developing experience which is not sound..

  7. humble 1 replied, May 18, 2021 at 6:44 p.m.

    I did not see the game, but if it is as described, then this is something of a watershed.  Why?  There are teams and clubs as HS and College that try and play soccer, but they are usually beaten by the kick-and-run / turbo crowd.  Today, one can find a technical trainer for one´s player, if you look around a bit, or a player can learn off youtube, the kiler is, kids/parents/coaches do not understand the importance of finishing the learning, in game situations.  Winning at all costs frequently stops the ´finishing´of learned skill.  Player cannot execute in game situations.  Playing up all the time will do the same thing.  Playing at as elite level as you can will also have the same effect.  Lacking free play, you must have your player play down, sometimes, but also with the understanding that those movements must be executed.  This is the point.  So many do not understand, or do, but cannot execute.  In Europe, they had street play before, from what I hear, the last frontier for that is Spain, but many academies in Europe are aware of the the complete learning cycle for the movements, and have the library of movements and they are the ones producing these players.  Now the clever players in Europe, they know the drill for NCAA eligibiity, and they have this as backup plan in case they do not make first team.  Even the clever Uruguayans boys are coming here to play college soccer.  I saw the roster of a top D2 school the other day, more than half from abroad, 3 Uruguayans!  You can train your player here in the technical skills, but can you get the player to execute in game situations?  Are you parent enough to fight the coach and tell your player, you need to keep that ball when there are no options and not loose it, before you pass.  Insist that your player be able to eat space given, draw defenders, and create space for a pass or shot drawing from a quiver of movements.  So now you see where I go ... it is a lot on the parent, this will be when we enter the next phase, when parents start demanding more from coaches and trainers.  Cheers!  Hat tip to Marshall!  We have a player from my boys club on that team.  Well done!

  8. Marshall Jones, May 18, 2021 at 6:12 p.m.

    The foreign players for Marshall certainly played Indiana right off the field.  However, I'd like to know the backstory on some of those players.  There is a German kid that was in the Bayer Leverkusen system -- and according to the bio, was called up to the first team a few times.  I wonder if any of them ever had professional contracts -- what are the NCAA rules on getting paid to play before college?

  9. jose cornejo replied, May 18, 2021 at 7:44 p.m.

    Marshall Jones, REALLY?????????

  10. schultz rockne replied, May 18, 2021 at 8:17 p.m.

    THE Marshall Jones...from L-town, OH?

  11. Marshall Jones replied, May 19, 2021 at 2:28 p.m.

    Sounds like amateurism rules in the NCAA changed a few years ago:
    "Cirovski has also seen that pool grow because of the more lenient NCAA amateurism rules compared to years past, opening up the possibility for players who have played professionally overseas to still play in college.

    “Players that maybe 15 years ago can’t even look at playing at an NCAA institution now are eligible to play,” Cirovski said. “So I think there’s a much bigger market and pool of players around the world that are looking at coming here to the U.S. to places like the University of Maryland.”

  12. frank schoon replied, May 19, 2021 at 3:06 p.m.

    Marshall, being called up from the Amateur ranks to play on the 1st team does not imply he's a pro. I had a similar situation with my nephew at Ajax who played for the C-team. One of the major colleges around the  DC area wanted to recruit him for he didn't have a pro-contract....

  13. Tim Lenahan, May 19, 2021 at 12:02 a.m.

    Indiana's coaching staff did one of the best jobs they've ever had to do.  Usually, they are the most talented team on the field but I don't think that has been the case at least for sure the last three games.   They went through the year with just one loss in spite of losing three pros to early departure (Aidan Morris, Jack Maher, and Josh Penn) and one to injury - All American Spencer Glass.   Even though their record was superb, Coach Yeagley knew they needed to play a certain style to win a national championship.   The problem came down to having to play a game every three days and put in a situation where they had to defend for the majority of the time vs. older international players the last three games ... it caught up with them in the end.  That being said, no one should take away the AMAZING job Chris Grassie did in building and developing the Marshall program.    They were superb on the night and a deserved winner.     France sits and counters to win the World Cup and they are genius, Indiana tries to do it as a college team and they are crap?   Both teams executed the tactics exactly as their coaches intended and it took a ball deflected off a save to decide the winner.  A brilliant game from a tactical and coaching standpoint that was destined to be decided by one play.   I thought the pace of the first half was incredible and in the end, probably hurt Indiana as the pace left them with very little in the tank in the 2nd half.   There was nothing negative about college or American soccer in that game.  A more seasoned, veteran and experienced team won the night.   Indiana's best players are sophomores (Celentano, Endeley, Bezzera) so depending on who turns pro, should be pretty good as they grow in experience.   A great night in my opinion for college soccer.   Chris Grassie is for sure the Coach of the Year in College Soccer with Todd Yeagley being right behind him.  A very entertaining game to watch as a coach and spectator.

  14. frank schoon replied, May 19, 2021 at 8:33 a.m.

    Tim , If you think  that Indiana played well but lost for their plan of counterattacking soccer didn't work, than ,I think , you miss the point of why Indiana played so bad. First of all when you play counter attacking soccer that means you are reactive to the situation and wait for the opponents to make a mistake and then counter....The Indiana team was badly coached for in order to play counter attacking you need to force the opponent to make mistakes to create counters. And how do you force opponents to make mistakes is to not give them time and space; instead they gave Marshall so much time and space which worked out fine for the technical players of Marshall. They were going through the Indiana lines unaccosted drinking a cup coffee and eating donuts. That was one mistake by the coaching staff, the other mistake is that  Marshall plays good ball possession, an aspect the Indiana team could learn from....This in fact further hampers any counter attack threats for the  opponents didn't lose the ball. 

    In the second half the Indiana team had 5 defenders ,6 if you include the goalie, covering nobody,standing in  a straight line in the box in front of the goalie....  

    To consider this game brilliant coached and it took a deflection for one team to benefit and earn the win is a joke. I don't know if that is prevalent opinion in Indiana soccer circles but in my circles the Indiana team was terrible, the players had difficulty making 2 consecutive passes in a row, had difficulty under pressure with the ball like most Americans kids. 




  15. Tim Lenahan, May 19, 2021 at 3:12 p.m.

    Indiana was exhausted from chasing for four games.  You can't get blood from a stone or as Vince Lombardi said "Fatigue makes cowards of us all"   Never before have teams had to play every three days through the tournament and the style they played meant lots of work from everyone on the defensive side of the ball.  Their bench had been fantastic through the first four games of the tournament but there was nothing left in the tank.   Look at the shot totals through the first Marshall was exceptional on the day, the more technical, fresher, and stronger team.  It took a great performance by them to win the game in overtime.   Indiana was outshot 70-35 throughout the tournament and still won 4 games.   They outscored their opponents 31-6 on the year.  I saw a tired team, you saw a terrible team.  I've watched a few college soccer games in my day and have seen Indiana play 6 or 7 times this year (three of them live).    They are a good team who just ran out of gas.  Marshall is a great team and a deserved champion...they were older, fitter, cleaner on the ball and the better team.

  16. frank schoon replied, May 19, 2021 at 4:31 p.m.

    Tim, you could be right about team exhaustion. This is the first time I watched IU play. You have seen them a few more times than I have. And likewise, it was Marshall,who?, to me. I watched the previous game of Marshall but it seems to they don't have a real scorer perse, and likewise they barely won the game. But I'm not looking at shot attempts, most goals scored when I watch a game, I look more at the details of how the ball was received, who is postioned where, was  the pass made have any continuity for a follow play, the handling of the ball, what was the thinking behind the pass. The style of play which I think of Marshall was short passes not much long, they filled the right positions for continuity.

    You can be tired as a team but still can display a good manner of play although with a little less efficiency. I didn't see that display, even in short flashes,or moments of Indiana. Compare it to watching a player who is out of shape but you can still notice his ball handling abilities and smoothness...that aspect, I didn't see at all from Indiana. Marshall played a very nice game in which you can't say Indiana got beat because they were physically outhustled and run into the ground. Marshall doesn't play that style but more of a smart style, employing the open spaces....

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