MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “I would love a rematch in the final in Louisville.”
That’s what Dan Stratford had to say Sunday following No. 5 West Virginia’s thrilling 3-2 loss to No. 1 Marshall in the Sun Belt Conference Men’s Soccer Championship title game.
WVU and Marshall have split the two meetings this season, and have split the last five meetings (2-2-1). The series is also even over the last seven meetings (3-3-1) dating back to 2004.
In the two matches this season, West Virginia is outscoring the Herd 7-5, though each side has a victory — WVU at home in October, and Marshall at home on Sunday. It only seems fitting that Mountain State natives, and college soccer fans alike, are treated to a decisive third meeting in the NCAA Tournament.
“Chris [Grassie] texted me before the quarterfinal and said, ‘I would love a rematch in the final.’ I’ll be sure to send him a text tonight and tell him I would love a rematch in the final in Louisville, as well,” Stratford said.
A third meeting between West Virginia and Marshall, especially one that deep in the NCAA Tournament, would be nothing short of historic. Though, the Mountain State Derby has already made history this year.
Never before have this many fans — at least 3,140 in both meetings — witnessed the game in person. Never before has either team been the No. 1 team in the country for the match — a distinction Marshall has held both times. Only once before has it been a matchup of Top 10 teams — never had it been two Top 5 teams squaring off on the pitch. Never before had the Mountaineers and Thundering Herd met outside of the regular season.
That all changed this year.
So, they might as well add another chapter to the storybook seasons for both teams and soccer in the state of West Virginia.
“I said to Strats when he left this meeting here, I said ‘I’ll see you in the final. Let’s do this again.’ Rubber match,” said Marshall head coach Chris Grassie.
Marshall (17-2) is likely to be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is released Monday. West Virginia (14-2-4) is expected to be a top-eight seed and has an argument to be a top-four seed. The latter would give the Mountaineers home-field advantage through the national quarterfinals. If that were to happen, the only way Marshall and West Virginia would meet again this season is at the College Cup.
The College Cup will begin on Dec. 8 in Louisville, Kentucky. The NCAA Tournament seeds and bracket will be announced on Monday, Nov. 13, beginning at 1 p.m. ET.