(MetroNews Talkline interview with Chris Grassie)
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Minutes before midnight, Marshall overcame one of the premier programs in NCAA men’s soccer to claim the school’s first national championship with a 1-0 overtime win over Indiana in the final of the College Cup late Monday evening.
“It has been pure joy. There’s a lot of happy faces, a lot of happy people. Everybody has been having a great time. We had a few hours of sleep and now we are getting ready to pack up and head to Huntington,” said head coach Chris Grassie on Tuesday morning’s edition of MetroNews Talkline.
Marshall’s possession-oriented style and stout defense produced the team’s NCAA-best eleventh shutout of the season in eighteen matches. The Herd did not concede a goal in the final three rounds of the tournament.
“The game went into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. I have said that we can possess the ball for days, but literally we kind of did. We stayed in possession of the ball and kind of created the game.
“I knew the longer we played, the more likely we were going to score. It was tilting our way. We were having more of the ball and creating more chances.”
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) May 18, 2021
Vitor Dias’ shot with three minutes left in the first overtime was deflected by the Indiana goalkeeper and ricocheted off the post. Jamil Roberts tapped home the rebound, setting off a frenzied reaction from the several thousand Herd supporters in the crowd.
“Jamil is one of the best in college at interpreting space and making runs with good timing. He found that space against Georgetown and against UNC. And he found it again against Indiana in the final. We love tap-ins. It was like a three-inch putt on the green.
“Everything slowed down. Time sort of stood still. It felt super surreal. The guys were mobbed. The crowd invaded the pitch. I waved to my dad and a friend in the crowd and found my wife and kids. It was just a phenomenal moment. I am glad we could share it with the City of Huntington. I think the whole city was in the crowd. The last one who left Huntington turned the lights out.”
Marshall (13-2-3) began the tournament unseeded and in line to play No. 1 seed Clemson in the round of 16. Grassie believes the squad was motivated by a challenging initial draw.
“I don’t think we will be so underrated next year. We felt a little bit slighted with the seeding and how it all worked out. I think we have a bit of respect for this program. I think we were the best team in the tournament. We kept the ball better than anyone else in the tournament. I feel like we deserved to win it and we played a great brand of soccer. And we showed you could do it at a smaller school.”