— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall enjoyed quite a run to its first NCAA Championship last May when it beat Indiana to win the men’s College Cup.
The 2021-22 campaign/title defense goes down as a one-and-done. Providence scored a late goal in the second half and netted the Golden goal in the 104th minute to beat the Thundering Herd, 2-1, Sunday in second-round NCAA Tournament play in front of 1,319 wet fans at Hoops Family Field.
The Thundering Herd (11-4-3) ends the season on a three-game losing streak.
Providence (12-4-4) goes on to a third-round match against fellow Big East member Georgetown. It will be the fourth meeting of the season between the two. Georgetown defeated Georgia State, 2-0, Sunday.
“Just a fantastic feeling,” Friars coach Craig Stewart said. “Players stepped up in individual moments. Had to take some risks, got a goal, then win it. Proud of the guys. Our experience is the key.”
Alexander Adjetey gave No. 14 seed Marshall a 1-0 lead with a goal in the 56th minute with an assist to Milo Josef.
Providence, which scored 70 percent of its goals in the second half this season, got even at 1 on a goal by Miguel Candela in the 85th minute.
With a steady rain falling, neither team scored in the first 10-minute extra session. In the second, Davis Smith netted the game-winner on a setup by Brendan McSorley.
The Friars went into celebration mode and the Herd players stood stunned by the turn of events.
Herd coach Chris Grassie said the Friars made the plays when it counted most. He said his players had gotten over the late-season losses to Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
“Couple of needless giveaways. They were able to go wide and cross it in,” Grassie said. “Until the last five minutes guys were brilliant. Credit to Providence. They were willing to throw numbers forward and we didn’t make them pay on the back end of it. We were able to possess the ball well, set up the attack at midfield and wait for the right looks. We leave with a little regret after this one.
“There will be a lot of time for reflection. As long as we play well, look after each other on the pitch, do the tactical things well, do the work required I’m generally happy and can live with it. A little bit unlucky. We didn’t take our chances at the end and it came back to hurt us.”
Providence’s Paulo Lima said his teammates find ways to come through in big moments.
“Knew Marshall would be a tough opponent,” Lima said. “A lot of the older guys have been in big games before. We talked about mental toughness, not break. We almost did, but we kept believing. Got the first goal we began to believe more and more. Find that one moment for the right chance and luckily we did.”
Providence beat Marist in the first round, 2-0. This is the Friars’ 12th NCAA Tournament appearance. They are 13-10-1 all time and 10-4-1 under Stewart.
Grassie stressed the loss stings, but the Herd did so much over the past three seasons to make Marshall a force in the college game. The seniors leave with their marks made. One of many is being ranked No. 1 nationally at different points in the season.
“The quick turnaround (May when 2020 season ended and August when 2021-22 season started) we never did develop the flow like we did last season,” Grassie said. “These guys have raised the bar so high. They should be proud what they’ve done all together. They’ve set the standard.”