LEXINGTON, Ky.- The Marshall men’s soccer team quashed any remaining doubts about its competency following an 0-4 start to the season with a crucial 2-0, Conference USA victory over the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday night. The win is the Thundering Herd’s sixth consecutive, and has the team sitting upon a winning 6-4 record and a perfect 3-0 conference mark.
The action started slowly at the UK Soccer Complex, with the visiting Herd having to adjust to a Wildcat team that had been ranked as high as No. 21 in the nation and had gone 11 games unbeaten at home. And after a scoreless first 40 minutes it appeared as if both squads were set to go into the break all-square, but Marshall’s Diego Ayala took a short corner to Peter Bulat, who then played Ayala to the top of the box where the junior midfielder made no mistake in smashing the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Tyler Beadle.
The Herd carried the 1-0 advantage into half, and then came out of the break still riding the momentum as it doubled its advantage on the 49 minute mark with Tom Jackson’s eighth goal of the season. The junior forward capitalized on a Peter Bulat pass to give Marshall the two goal cushion early in the second half.
Goalkeeper Daniel Withrow and senior captain Jordan Hilgefort then faced the daunting task of repelling a Kentucky attack for the remaining forty minutes, but were more than capable as the two helped guide the Herd to the 2-0, shutout win. Withrow made three saves on the night and was aided by stellar performances from the defenders in front of him.
“Tonight was a big, big win for us,” said Head Coach Bob Gray. “It’s never easy to travel to Kentucky and beat them on the road, but the goal by Jackson early in the second half gave us some breathing room and we were able to come away with a huge victory for our program. We’ll enjoy this one for the ride home and then get back to work tomorrow.”
The win over the Wildcats has the Herd sitting atop the C-USA standings at a perfect 3-0 mark, and the team will now prepare for another important C-USA showdown as SMU comes to Sam Hood Field this Saturday at 7:00 p.m.