High School Football

University H.S. grad Collin Mocyunas reflects on title run for Marshall

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Less than a week has passed since Jamil Roberts’ golden goal in the 98th minute secured a 1-0 win for Marshall over Indiana in the College Cup Final. On a roster with players from all over the world, Collin Mocyunas’ 200-mile trip from Morgantown to Huntington has turned the University High School graduate into a national champion.

“I have found myself throughout the last couple days at random moments when I find time to take a deep breath and find some time to be on my own, it is hard not to get emotional at times,” Mocyunas said.

The redshirt junior defender has played for head coach Chris Grassie for four seasons. Grassie received a new five-year contract Friday that nearly tripled his base salary.

“He is the best college soccer coach in the country, without a doubt. The way he came in and completely changed the dynamic and the environment of the program at Marshall, very quickly people fed off his energy and his belief. He never even let me for a second begin to doubt myself or even let myself down. If there was ever a time where he saw that I wasn’t working as hard as I absolutely could or could be letting myself down in any type of way, he made sure that changed immediately.

“When you look around and see our assistant coaches going through hours upon hours of video, there is no way you are going to show up at practice and fall asleep during that tactical video session.”

In his redshirt sophomore season, Mocyunas played in 20 of the Herd’s 22 matches, making a dozen starts.

“In 2019, we made a run in the Sweet 16 and we fell out there. Obviously, that was a pretty sour taste. We really didn’t stop thinking about that until we won it this year. We felt like we underperformed (in 2019).”

Over 14 months would pass before Marshall returned to the pitch since the start of the 2020 season was delayed until February due to the pandemic.

“That was the longest I have gone by far in my life without playing a competitive game of soccer. The entire world had a pretty rough last calendar year. Not having soccer, which pretty much all of us fall back on for happiness and joy, not having that was pretty rough. When the time finally came around for us to get going again, I think that gave us the little extra edge we needed to make things happen this year.”

Mocyunas started 17 of 18 matches for Marshall this season and he was one of the eleven players on the field when the lone goal of the championship match was scored.

“I was pretty close to the logo in the center of the field. When it happened, I was a little delayed on the celebration with everyone running and kind of sliding into the corner. It was a moment of disbelief and shock. It took me definitely a few seconds for it to register.

“Both of my parents were able to make the trip to the game. That was my first embrace. I was just kind of sprinting around just trying to look for my parents to share my moment with them. That was really special.”

Mocyunas played midfield at University High School and led the Hawks to the Class AAA state championship game in 2016.

“Playing for University for all four years was always one of the most exciting things. There’s not better feeling than playing for and representing your school and having your friends at games. The great part about college soccer is that it really is just a bigger version of that.”

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