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Community welcomes Herd soccer team home as national champions

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 8:37 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – In rousing fashion, Marshall University’s men’s soccer team was welcomed home Tuesday night to Huntington as national champions.

Applause and Queen’s anthem “We Are the Champions” greeted the players and Coach Chris Grassie as they made their way onto the turf at Hoops Family Field.

Late Monday night in Cary, North Carolina, the Herd upset the No. 3 ranked Indiana Hoosiers 1-0 in overtime.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams referred to the city as the “epicenter of men’s college soccer” and designated Herd player Pedro Dolabella as Huntington’s honorary mayor – handing him a proclamation.

Coach Grassie and his players spoke of the difficulties of playing in a year of COVID.

“2020 sucked – what a year,” Grassie said, talking about challenges of having players stuck in South America and Europe during the pandemic.

“As a university and a state, I couldn’t be more proud of how we handled it … once we got to the biggest stage, we invaded,” he said.

Grassie went on to say, “If we can bring just a little bit of joy in this terrible year … that will make us proud as anything.”

Dolabella also addressed the challenges of the pandemic, saying “I hoped we lived up to your expectations.” He was met with laughter and applause.

Among others at the ceremony were Athletic Director Mike Hamrick and Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert.

“Destiny, we had a date with it last night and we won it,” Gilbert said. We won it all.”

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