NSCAA honors Rio soccer standouts

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The University of Rio Grande placed a trio of players on the 2016 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Men’s Soccer All-America teams announced Tuesday night.

Senior defender Heitor de Melo (Sao Paulo, Brazil), junior midfielder Jorge Guinovart (Barcelona, Spain) and senior midfielder Pau Delgado Rodriguez (Barcelona, Spain) were all named as first team honorees.

The trio were also named to the NSCAA’s NAIA All-South Region Team.

Two other members of the national runner-up RedStorm – sophomore goal keeper Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) and sophomore forward Eduardo Zurita (Sant Boi de Llobregat, Spain) – were named to the All-South Region Team.

Delgado Rodriguez, the River States Conference Offensive Player of the Year, led the RedStorm with 20 goals and 49 points. His nine assists ranked second on the team.

Delgado Rodriguez is a repeat first team selection.

Guinovart, the RSC Overall Player of the Year, was second among Rio’s team leaders with 14 goals and 40 points. His 12 assists led the club.

de Melo, the RSC Defensive Player of the Year, helped the RedStorm post 13 shutouts this season. Offensively, he also had three goals and three assists.

Martinez, a first team All-American as a freshman, recorded 11 solo shutouts and was part of two others. He started all 25 games for Rio, allowing just 14 goals with 42 saves and a .750 save percentage.

Zurita had five goals and five assists for the season.

Hastings sophomore forward Daniel Whitehall was honored as the NSCAA’s Player of the Year. The Warrington, England, native led the NAIA in total goals (34) and was tops in total points with 77.

Whitehall was also named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the NAIA National Championship, helping his team secure the championship for the second time in program history with its 1-0 win over defending national champion Rio Grande in last Saturday’s title game.

Like Rio Grande, the University of Northwestern Ohio landed three players on the first team.

Among the others named to the first team were midfielders Sam Blackman of Grand View (Iowa), Eduardo Heringer of MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and Perica Obradovic of Oklahoma Wesleyan; defenders Michael Gonzalo of Northwestern Ohio and Fernando Machado of Oklahoma Wesleyan; forward Sean Latimer of Northwestern Ohio; and goal keeper Nikola Kahvedzic of Northwestern Ohio.

All honorees will be recognized at the National Soccer Coaches’ Association of America (NSCAA) National Convention, held in Los Angeles, Calif., from Jan. 11-15, 2017.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing