Thundering Herd post third shutout in as many matches to upend Xavier

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va — Marshall made its shots on goal count.

The Thundering Herd connected on two first-half chances and that burst, along with one goal on one shot in the second, sparked the home team past Xavier, 3-0, in college soccer Friday night at Hoops Family Field/Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex.

The Herd concluded its season-opening three-game home stand with a 3-0 mark and the Musketeers are 1-1-1.

“We did what coached asked,” Pablo Simon said to Herd  goalkeeper Gabriel Perrota in Spanish and he translated. “First came off corner. The other was the ball was behind. We’re very happy with this. We can spread the scoring around. Try to do it for the team. Get the goals. It doesn’t matter who.”

Perrotta had two saves to get his third shutout.

“It’s big for the team,” said Perrotta, a transfer from UNC Wilmington. “The ball was barely getting to me. Still have to react when called on.”

No. 5 Marshall is back in action Tuesday at Pitt. The Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Conference hope to bounce back from a 4-1 loss Friday at Georgetown. They began the day ranked No. 8 nationally.

“It doesn’t matter who it is,” Perrotta said. “Pitt is a good team. It will be a difficult test on the road.”

Alvaro Garcia-Pascual got the Herd’s first goal in the seventh minute. Simon got the second in the 11th minute and Adam Aoumaich wrapped up the night in the 57th minute.

In the first half, Perrotta made his lone save on a long shot off a free kick by Xavier’s Jerome Jolly just a second before the half ended. He had another save in the second half.

Marshall took 10 shots total in the first half and 17 for the match. Xavier came in averaging 9.5 shots a game, but the Herd limited the Big East club just three.

“The defense has been tremendous,” Herd coach Chris Grassie said. “We were able to take some things away.”

On offense, Grassie said his team has many weapons to use.

“No game balls tonight,” he said, referring to Herd hat trick in the past two games. “A lot of big-match winners. As long as we get one more. Zero on the board looks good. Got a lot of help from the bench to keep a clean sheet. We’re deep.”

Xavier is now 8-6-2 against Top 10 teams since 2010. The Musketeers lead the overall series against Marshall 5-4-2.

Grassie looks forward to Tuesday and the match in Pitt’s new facility.

“Really excited about it,” he said. “We’re ready to get on the road.”

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