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Yohance MarshallHe waited patiently for the moment.

For four years, South Florida defender Yohance Marshall and his senior brethren on the men’s soccer team dreamed of being crowned Big East champions.

“As a freshman, I got a taste of what it was like to be in a final,” Marshall said, referring to the ’05 squad that went to the Big East championship game only to fall short 1-0 to the University of Connecticut. “As a sophomore and as a junior we didn’t make it. My senior year, my last year, to go out like this, it’s a dream come true.”

Marshall’s dream was realized Nov. 16 in a 1-0 win over St. John’s.

The journey began four years ago in coach George Kiefer’s office, fellow senior Jordan Seabrook said.

“I remember the day I stepped into coach’s office for the first time and talking about competing for the Big East championship,” Seabrook said. “This is why I came to USF. To call ourselves Big East ‘champs’ was definitely a long time coming.”

Marshall, a team captain since his sophomore year, has started in all 50 games he’s played. In 2005 he was named third team All-Big East and started all 21 games. The following year he was named preseason All-Big East.

As a junior, he continued to collect on-the-field accolades. Marshall helped the Bulls to nine shutouts, was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Team of the Week five times and was nominated for National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Men’s Division I All-Northeast Region second team.

Awards are great, but Marshall said titles are better.

The Malabar, Trinidad native has already guided the Bulls to their first Big East championship in school history, and is hoping to do the same for the national championship. The Bulls travel to Wake Forest on Saturday to play in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

“He’s really flourished in the captain role,” Kiefer said.  “He calms guys gown when they need to be calmed down and lifts guys up when they need to be lifted up.  He keeps everybody organized back there.  He’s a key, key guy for us.”

To prove that point, Marshall was named “Hard Working Team Player” in College Soccer News in 2006.

The 2008 Bulls have strived for perfection, especially on defense, and perfection was all but accomplished. The Bulls have 12 shutouts this season, and sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Attinella said Marshall is the glue that holds the pieces together in the back line.

“We all turn to him.  He’s knows how to be a leader,” he said. “He keeps everyone focused and deserves a lot of credit.”

All the while, Marshall makes sure he’s taking care of his individual responsibilities on the team.

“I know my role,” Marshall said.  “It’s my job to make sure we improve in areas we need to improve in.”

There hasn’t been too much to improve on for the 15-4-3 Bulls, who are preparing for perhaps the biggest game in school history Saturday. Whatever the result, however, Marshall’s positive influence on this season is undeniable.