CHARLESTON, W.Va.- Two goals from senior forward Tom Jackson saw the Marshall University men’s soccer team down the visiting Wright State Raiders 2-0 at the Trace Fork Soccer Complex on Friday night in Charleston.
The Dunedin, New Zealand, native picked up right where he left off last season, bagging a first-half brace to propel the Thundering Herd to a season opening win against a Wright State squad that was voted as preseason favorite to win the Horizon League. Preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Daniel Withrow, also made his presence felt, keeping the clean sheet with five saves on the night.
The match began brightly for the Herd when Jackson caught a stroke of luck less than two minutes into the contest. The senior’s long throw-in somehow managed to elude the grasp of Wright State goalkeeper Craig Feehan, who disastrously palmed the powerful heave into his own net. On the other end, Withrow snagged a header from Raider sophomore Albert Nilsson to thwart the visitor’s only decent chance of the first half.
With less than seven minutes remaining in the opening period Jackson once again found the net, this time in a more routine manner as he received a pass from freshman forward Andrew Ferguson and fired a low shot into the far post.
When play resumed for the second half, Marshall found itself in a much more hotly contested battle as Wright State threw numbers forward into the attack. The Raiders tallied seven shots to Marshall’s four in the closing 45 minutes and saw several decent attempts sail wide or end up in the confident grasp of Withrow.
The physical encounter saw the two teams combine for 37 total fouls as Marshall picked up 21 of them, including 13 in the second half. The Herd gave up several free kicks to the Raiders late in the match, but managed to outlast the visitors and hang on for the season opening victory.
The win signifies progress for a Herd team that dropped its opening match away to Wright State last season en route to an 0-4 start. This season, the team begins with a perfect 1-0 slate.
“It’s always nice to start the season off with a win,” said Marshall head coach Bob Gray. “Wright State is a good side and certainly didn’t give us any slack, but I really like the way we played tonight. We got on top of them from the beginning and created some good chances. We got a gift early on with Tom’s throw-in goal, but I thought we had most of the play and prevented them from creating a whole lot of scoring opportunities. I’m happy to get the win and am pleased with the overall play. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
Marshall will now take to the road for the entire month of September, beginning with a battle at Bowling Green on September 1.