— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marco Silva scored two of Marshall’s four second-half goals as the No. 2 Thundering Herd pulled way to defeat Cleveland State, 5-0, Tuesday night in front of 1,579 fans at Hoops Family Field/Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex.
The Herd’s program-record start moves to 6-0 with the result.
“The way we played, teams get tired,” said Marshall’s Matthew Bell, the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year a season ago. “They wear down and we get space in the box and take advantage.”
Pablo Simone’s goal in the 37th minute gave Marshall a 1-0 lead at halftime. Simon volleyed in a cross from Aymane Sordo.
In the second half, the offense generated four goals, the defense kept the Vikings at bay and Herd coach Chris Grassie got to play nearly everyone.
“We make runs and do a lot of the right things,” Grassie said. “We have a lot of depth and use it. The first half we didn’t do things the right way. The second half we did. Cleveland State helped us. We played into spaces and got a lot of chances.”
Cleveland State had the first scoring chance in the 21st minute as Marko Rimac went one-on-one with Herd keeper Gabriel Perrotta who tipped the ball over the crossbar.
Bell scored his fifth goal of the season at 47:58 when he converted after the Vikings failed to clear the ball. He then set up Silva’s first goal at 62:05 when Silva banged the ball home from the middle of the box. Silva then took a nice through pass from Taimu Okiyoshi outside the box, came in alone on Vikings goalkeeper Stephen Yerian and used his right foot to put the ball in the bottom left of the open goal at 70:44. Silva now has seven goals on the season.
“I missed one earlier,” Silva said. “I got a second chance and got the goal.”
Alexander Adjetey got a similar goal at 88:06 for the Herd off a pass from Sordo.
Marshall finished with 15 shots, nine on goal. Cleveland State had just three shots on goal with only one in the second half.
“Adjetey had a similar position,” Grassie said of that goal and Silva’s second. “They were composed going in. He (Silva) was not in control early. He’s such a good player, put the work in, got the runs and it paid off in the end.”
Marshall has outscored its opponents, 22-2.
Marshall nows turns its attention to Sun Belt Conference play. The Herd visits James Madison on Saturday night. The Dukes are 4-0-1 after getting a goal with 16 seconds left in the match to tie Virginia 1-1 at home Tuesday.
“It’s the league. Everything’s big now,” Bell said.
West Virginia is fourth, UCF is tied for fifth and James Madison is No. 9. Kentucky, preseason pick to win the Sun Belt, checks in at No. 24.
“We kept talking about it when we put this (league) together,” Grassie said. “Then we add UCF. Three teams in the top 10. That says a lot.”
Getting to utilize the bench Tuesday should prove beneficial for the Herd as the season wears on. All remaining games are against Sun Belt foes except one. Gabe Sitler came on for Gabriel Perrotta in goal and played the final 6:05.
“I’ve been reluctant to make changes,” Grassie said. “All the subs added energy tonight. I was happy about it.”
Cleveland State, a member of the Horizon League, is 1-4-1. The Herd leads the series with the Vikings, 4-2.