With Marshall's soccer complex still on the drawing board and the old field done forever, the Thundering Herd men's team brings its so-far successful season to its temporary home at Hurricane High.Coach Bob Gray's Herd (9-1-1, 1-1) gets back into the meat of Conference USA play at 7 tonight against South Carolina. And yes, the Gamecocks (4-6-2, 1-3-1) are a conference foe, as is Kentucky, which comes to Hurricane at 7 p.m. Wednesday.In fact, the nine-team league also includes Florida International as an associate member, with FIU entering as a full member in 2013-14. The league is nothing to sneeze at in men's soccer, sending four teams to the 2011 NCAA tournament.Marshall is coming off a 2-0 win at Evansville to finish nonconference play, a few days after the Herd closed Sam Hood Field for good with a 7-0 win over Asbury.
Before that, the Herd suffered its only loss 2-0 at Tulsa, which has been ranked in all four of the sport's major polls. The Herd received votes in the Soccer Times poll until that loss.
New Zealand native Tom Jackson, a senior, leads the Herd with seven goals and three assists, with freshman Jack Hopkins tallying four goals. The goalkeeper is senior Daniel Withrow, a Michigan native with roots in Charleston's South Hills.Withrow allowed two of his three goals against Tulsa, and still leads the nation with a .939 save percentage. Officially, he has 8.5 shutouts this season, a school record, and his 20.5 for his career are a school record by a large margin. He and freshman defenseman Matt Freeman have both been honored as C-USA's defensive player of the week.After Saturday, Marshall has five games remaining. The top six teams will advance to the C-USA tournament Nov. 7-11 in Birmingham, Ala.MU's soccer complex has not yet taken shape, but the site is ready to build after the demolition of Veterans Memorial Field House. The land on which Sam Hood Field sat is part of the land for the indoor practice building.