Herd picked to win CUSA Soccer
Kentucky is selected to finish 3rd
DALLAS – The top-ranked, and defending National Champions Marshall men’s soccer team was unanimously selected as the Conference USA Preseason favorite, the league office announced Monday. Senior forward Vitor Dias was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and senior center back Nathan Dossantos was honored as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Three other players joined Dias and Dossantos on the C-USA All-Preseason team in senior goalkeeper Oliver Semmle, junior midfielder Max Schneider and redshirt junior forward Milo Yosef. Marshall led the way with five players on the Preseason team. Charlotte was next with three. Florida Atlantic and Kentucky feature two players each with Old Dominion and South Carolina represented with one player.
The preseason polls are voted on by the league’s nine head coaches. Marshall received all nine votes for the top spot. The Herd faces a daunting schedule in 2021. Along with having the star on the on the team crest, and knowing they will get the best effort from every opponent, Marshall will face five teams this year ranked in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Top 25, and two more who are receiving votes.
Conference USA features four teams that begin the 2021 season ranked in the top 25. Along with Marshall starting off at No. 1, Kentucky is No. 14, Charlotte starts at No. 18 and C-USA newcomer Coastal Carolina comes in at No. 25. The Herd will host Coastal Carolina on Saturday Sept. 4, for its home-opener.
The Thundering has won back-to-back C-USA Championships in 2019 and 2020. Marshall then put on a tremendous run through the NCAA Tournament, on the way to winning its first ever National Title. The Herd returns all of its major contributors from last season, except for NCAA Tournament Offensive MVP Jamil Roberts. Along with the experienced returners, Marshall boasts some newcomers that add to its depth, as the team gets set to defend its championships just a little over three months after winning it all.
Dias piled up numerous awards this past season including being the program’s first ever United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American and MAC Herman Trophy semifinalist. The Brasilia, Brazil native was also named the 2020-21 Conference USA Michael L. Slive Co-Male Athlete of the Year. He led the team in scoring with six goals, seven assists and 19 points. Dias ranked ninth in the country in assists. Nicknamed “The Magician” Dias drilled the final penalty kick in the Sweet 16 shootout against No. 1 Clemson to help keep the Herd’s run alive. He then had the assist on the game-winners (all scored by Roberts) in the Elite 8 win over No. 8 Georgetown, Final Four victory over No. 16 UNC and on the golden goal in the 98th minute against No. 3 Indiana.
Dossantos became an immediate star on the back line for the Herd after transferring from Duquesne. The Oakville, Ontario, Canada native helped lead the defensive effort that resulted in just eight goals allowed and a measly 34 shots on goal over 18 matches. Marshall led the nation with 11 shutouts a year ago. Dossantos was a three-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Week as well as First Team All-Conference, NCAA All-Tournament Team and a United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America Second Team selection. Three times in the regular season, Dossantos and the defense held the opponent without a single shot on goal in the clean sheets against Bowling Green (Feb. 27), Florida Atlantic (April 3) and UAB (April 10).
Semmle returns after a stellar first season in Huntington. The Au am Rhein, Germany native was named the C-USA Goalkeeper of the Year, won the league’s Golden Glove and was a First Team All-Conference pick. He made a season-high five saves in the Final Four win over UNC. Semmle set a program and C-USA single-season record with a 0.38 goals against average. His 11 shutouts also set a team record.
Schneider has been a very steady performer in the midfield for Marshall whether back on defense or helping with the attack. The Cologne, Germany native scored two goals and had one assist last year. His second goal came off a free kick from distance against Clemson to give the Herd a 1-0 lead, and also converted Marshall’s first successful penalty kick in the shootout.
Yosef’s numbers dropped some in his sophomore season as defenses shifted attention in his direction. That shift in focus helped open opportunities for his teammates. The Aachem, Germany native scored four goals and had four assists last season. Yosef netted two goals in Marshall’s second round, overtime win against No. 23 Fordham. The athletic forward scored first in the 25th minute and then powered home the golden goal in the 97th minute. Yosef began the final sequence in the National Title match with driving the ball toward the right side of the box and then making a pass to Dias.
The Herd opens the 2021 season on the road at the Fairfield by Marriott Invitational hosted by No. 21 James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va. Marshall plays JMU on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The Herd will then play No. 15 Virginia Tech on Sunday, Aug. 29 with kickoff at 3:30 p.m.
2021 C-USA Men’s Soccer Preseason Team
Joe Brito, Charlotte, R-Sr., MF
Preston Popp, Charlotte, Sr., F
Alex Willis, Charlotte, Sr., F
Alonso Coello Camarero, Florida Atlantic, Sr., MF
Ivan Mykhailenko, Florida Atlantic, Sr., F
Marcel Meinzer, Kentucky, Sr., MF
Robert Screen, Kentucky, Sr., D
*Vitor Dias, Marshall, Sr., MF
^Nathan Dossantos, Marshall, Sr., D
Max Schneider, Marshall, Jr., MF
Oliver Semmle, Marshall, Sr., GK
Milo Yosef, Marshall, R-Jr., F
Josh Thacker, Old Dominion, Fr., D
Brian Banahan, South Carolina, Jr., F
*Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
^Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
2021 C-USA Men’s Soccer Preseason Poll
1. Marshall (9)
4. Coastal Carolina
6. Florida Atlantic
7. South Carolina
8. Old Dominion
(first-place votes in parenthesis)
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