Marshall’s soccer success, College Cup run nearly never happened

Bob Gray and Jack DeFazio were all smiles as they took in the festivities on Monday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.

For the two former Marshall men’s soccer coaches, the run of the Herd to the NCAA College Cup title game was something even they never could have imagined.

“Oh my goodness, it’s just phenomenal,” DeFazio said. “Take it one step farther. With the exception of I-AA football, what are the chances of a Marshall University making it to a championship game? The odds are just not in your favor.

“You think of where it was and being involved in the beginning and now seeing where it is today, it’s just an absolutely phenomenal experience.”

To say that, at one point, Marshall’s men’s soccer program was closer to extinction than a championship is not a far-fetched idea.

In fact, in 2003, Marshall University officials nearly eliminated the Thundering Herd’s men’s soccer program.

“Ironically, I got called into the AD’s office and it was April 1,” Gray said. “He told me that he was dropping the program. I said, ‘Ahh, good one.’ I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. He said, ‘No, I’m serious. We’re going to drop it.’ I told him that we weren’t going to take this lying down.”