MSU linebacker nears 300 tackles

There is no reliable source for the all-time leading tacklers at Minot State University, but there is a general consensus that senior inside linebacker Chad Marshall is at or near the top of the list.

Marshall, who enters Saturday’s game at St. Cloud State with 297 career tackles, has been in the thick of the Beavers’ defense since suiting up as a redshirt freshman in 2010.

He tied for the team lead with 60 tackles that year despite playing in only eight games due to injury. As a sophomore, he recorded a team-best 81 tackles, followed by 79 in his junior campaign. This season, the 6-foot-2, 234-pounder from Hazen is on track for his most prolific year yet, as he’s tallied a team-high 77 tackles with two games remaining.

MSU coach Paul Rudolph said Marshall has become a more cerebral player during his college career.

“He’s always been gifted with his ability to run,” Rudolph said. “He’s a good athlete, but he’s really grown into the mental side of it.”

Marshall agreed.

“That first year, I was like every other freshman. I was a wide-eyed kid that thought I was gonna set the world on fire right away,” he said. “I guess I really matured and figured out a lot more goes into it than just showing up and playing. I feel like that’s part of the reason I’ve been successful. … I’ve taken a step back and realized what goes into it every week.”

MSU’s 3-4 defense that relies on linebackers to make a majority of the tackles has also contributed to Marshall’s gaudy statistics. Marshall is quick to credit his teammates for funneling ball carriers to him, and said he hasn’t thought much about reaching the imminent 300-tackle milestone.

“I think it’s one of those things that’ll mean more once I’m older,” he said. “Once I’ve been out for a few years, it’ll be something that I can look back at and say it was something I did while I was here.”

For now, Marshall is focused on improving the Beavers’ 2-7 record. Following this week’s matchup at No. 17 St. Cloud State (8-1), MSU returns home Nov. 16 to play Bemidji State (2-7).

“Everybody wants to end their career on a high note,” Marshall said. “It’s been a rough last couple of years because the transition (to Division II) has been tough for us, but we’re gonna get there as a team in the years to come. I would like to end my career with two big wins over two good teams and leave here feeling good about my career.”

Soccer team faces tough matchup:

No. 6 Mankato

By almost every measure, the MSU women’s soccer team is a heavy underdog in today’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament first-round match at Minnesota State-Mankato.

No. 1 seed Mankato (15-2-1 overall, 13-1-1 NSIC) is ranked sixth in Division II and handled the Beavers (7-7-3, 7-6-2) in a 1-0 overtime win earlier this season. The Mavericks outshot MSU 30-3 in that match and held a 10-0 advantage in shots on goal.

But MSU coach Jason Spain is preaching one fact that Mankato should fear: the Beavers knocked off the Mavericks in a shootout in last year’s semifinals en route to a conference tournament title.

“We’re the defending champion and I just want our girls to know that,” Spain said. “We had a rough year, but we finished strong and we’re still the defending champions.”

The Beavers have played their best soccer of late, finishing 5-1-1 in their last seven matches.

Spain said Mankato is “like a track team” with all of its speed. The Beavers will likely play compact defense and pick their spots on offense.

Spain said MSU “won’t attack (Mankato) for 90 minutes,” but expects the shots disparity to be less than it was during the regular-season meeting.

Having junior striker Zoe Fisher at full strength after recovering from a knee injury should help. Fisher played just 35 minutes in the previous matchup.

“We’re gonna throw some different stuff at them and we’ll take our chances at different parts of the game,” Spain said. “We’ll be more able to get out with a healthy Zoe. Our freshman strikers have gotten a lot better, so we feel a lot better about getting forward.”

The match begins at 1 p.m.

Basketball teams prepare for doubleheader

The MSU basketball teams open their regular-season slate with a home doubleheader against South Dakota Mines on Friday. The women play at 6 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m.

Women’s coach Sheila Green Gerding is looking forward to seeing how her team competes against a similarly skilled opponent. The Beavers won by a combined 97 points in a pair of exhibition games this weekend against Salish-Kootenai College (Mont.).

“We’re ready to be challenged and come out and see what we’re made of,” Green Gerding said. “We really haven’t been challenged in a game-like situation that really counts, so this’ll be the first test for us.”

The men’s teams from MSU and S.D. Mines both played exhibitions against Dickinson State. The Hardrockers won 67-65 and MSU prevailed 79-70.

“They’re just a really well-coached, solid basketball team,” MSU coach Matt Murken said of S.D. Mines. “It’ll be a good opening game for us. It’s time for us to kind of see where we’re at. We’ve had the exhibition games and a few scrimmages. We’re slowly getting better, but it’s time for us to play another good team and see where we stack up and get ready for the NSIC coming up here shortly.”

Murken said the Hardrockers, who are coached by Minot native Jason Henry, will test the Beavers’ interior defense. S.D. Mines has four players 6-foot-8 or taller.

MSU sophomore Dominique McDonald, who started at point guard last season, was cleared to play this week after sitting out a month with a fractured foot. Murken said McDonald is still working his way back into game shape.

Daniel Allar covers Minot State University athletics.

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