— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A big save by the goaltender became a spark that led to a quick rush downfield, and a low shot from inside inside the opponent’s box went inside the left post for a goal.
So it went for Marshall on Saturday night when keeper Oliver Semmle stopped a shot by West Virginia’s Ryan Crooks at 83:17 and Kyle Lenhert’s follow missed to the right.
Milo Yosef then took a pass while making a run down the right side and entering the West Virginia box, before firing a low shot past keeper Jackson Lee for the goal that sparked a celebration among Thundering Herd fans in the soldout crowd of 2,735 at Hoops Family Field/Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex.
That goal would hold up one give the No. 4 Herd a 1-0 win over the Mountaineers in the 25th iteration of the West Virginia Derby. When the clock struck zero, Marshall fans charged the turf to congratulate the players and coach Chris Grassie.
“I saw the striker and I cheated a little bit,” Simmle said of the clutch save. “Milo — just a great effort. The crowd was amazing.”
Yosef’s goal was his fifth of the season.
“I dreamt that would happen,” Yosef said. “It did. The fans — we’re used to that. I got the ball down the line, saw the goalie cheat and said, ‘go for it.’ Needed that reward for Ollie. He saved us. It’s a big win.”
WVU (2-5-1, 0-1-1 Sun Belt Conference) got its first scoring chance late in the first half when Ryan Baer put a shot on goal. Marcus Caldeira sent a header just wide in the 79th minute. Then came Semmle diving and stopping the shot by Crooks.
“We created a lot of chances in the first half,” Grassie said. “We tried to increase the pressure. You could kind of see their heads drop after that save.
“You could see he (Yosef) was feeling it. Just shoot. When he turned, it was try to get it and rip it. We’ve had this journey since 2019. We’ve been winning and the crowd’s been with us. It helped push over the top tonight. You could see us gain energy.”
Marshall (5-1-1, 1-0-1 Sun Belt) returns to action Friday night against Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C.
With the loss, the Mountaineers are now 16-7-2 in the all-time series, including 6-5-1 in Huntington.
“It was emotional,” Mountaineers coach Dan Stratford said. “We still created some chances. We have to absorb this and move on. This was our best performance of the season against the best opponent we’ve played.”