HUNTINGTON — Marshall junior midfielder Pedro Dolabella isn’t normally one to hold back any words.
The Thundering Herd’s 6-foot-4 Brazilian product speaks what’s on his mind, which is one of the things that makes him one of the team’s most vibrant characters.
But as Marshall battled for the Conference USA championship against Charlotte on Sunday, Dolabella let his play do all his talking for him, scoring the lone tally of the contest in double-overtime with his golden goal sending the Herd to its first-ever Conference USA title in a 1-0 win.
There was plenty of meaning behind the performance, as Marshall head coach Chris Grassie explained to the crowd gathered at Fat Patty’s in Huntington during Monday’s NCAA tournament selection show.
Dolabella had interest in the 49ers program, but that interest was not reciprocated in recruiting.
“Charlotte told him he wasn’t good enough,” Grassie said to the crowd before pointing at Dolabella. “He was the best player on the pitch [Sunday] night.”
With the championship-clinching performance behind him, Dolabella returned to his outspoken nature in regard to what that moment meant to him.
“I got declined to play there and I had been waiting for a moment like that to pay them back,” Dolabella said. “I held all my anger and it became motivation to beat them. They are always my favorite [team] to play against. It couldn’t have been a better ending. It looks like a movie to me.”
Dolabella celebrated the NCAA selection show with his teammates on Monday, and led a group of cheers once the pairings were announced that Marshall would host the winner of Thursday’s Butler-West Virginia matchup.
WVU won 5-1 and will face Marshall at 2 p.m. Sunday at Hoops Family Field. The match can be seen live through streaming on ESPN3.
Dolabella said the Herd is extremely confident as the team gets set to host its first NCAA tournament match.
“I feel like this chemistry and this friendship, bringing it onto the field breeds confidence and leads us to play the best soccer possible,” Dolabella said. “Whoever comes in to our place, we’re ready and we’ll prepare well this week. They have to come to us — either team — so we’re ready.”
Success for Dolabella has not just occurred on the pitch for Marshall’s men’s soccer program.
Shortly before Marshall’s leader in the midfield was named an All-Conference USA second-team selection, he was also named to the Conference USA All-Academic Team. Dolabella already is a two-time recipient of the Conference USA Academic Medalist honors and the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll, which praises outstanding work in the classroom.
That is expected to become a third-straight year for those latter honors as Dolabella maintains a 3.86 grade-point average as an economics major at Marshall.
Grassie praised his work ethic in all facets.
“We try to have a culture of excellence and we try to be the best we can be in everything we do,” Grassie said. “There’s a guy who exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete and what it means to go through adversity and to be brave and play life the way you play soccer. He’s an inspiration to us.”