RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Jessica Austin scored three goals and assisted on another to lead Union (Ky.) College past the University of Rio Grande, 4-3, Wednesday night, in non-conference women’s soccer play at Evan E. Davis Field.
The Bulldogs, who won for the third time in four all-time meetings with the RedStorm, improved to 8-3-2 with the victory.
Rio Grande fell to 4-7 for the season, including a 1-7 mark against non-conference foes.
Austin’s hat trick was the first of her collegiate career, but it was her assist which helped get the scoring underway.
Austin slipped behind the Rio defense and drew sophomore goalkeeper Kristin Garn (Morrow, OH) out of position, before firing a pass from the left side of the 18-yard box to Kristin Meece, who drilled her shot into an open net to make it 1-0 with 11:31 gone in the opening half.
That’s how things stayed until Rio Grande got the first collegiate goals in the careers of sophomores Anna Martin (Clarksburg, OH) and Cassidy Young (Okeana, OH) early it the second half to tie the game and then take the lead.
Martin scored an unassisted marker to knot the score just under 5-1/2 minutes into the second period, while Young scored deep in the box off the rebound of a scramble in front of the net to put Rio ahead 2-1 with 37:18 left to play.
At that point, however, Austin stole the show by scoring three times in a span of less than six minutes.
The Altadena, California senior scored off an indirect kick by Madison Meyer to even the score with 30:22 remaining, before cashing in on a breakaway that began beyond the midfield line to put the Bulldogs back in front, 3-2, with 26:37 still to play.
Her final goal was an unassisted marker a little less than two minutes later.
Rio Grande did not give up, though, and drew to within 4-3 when senior Taylor Ahrens (Ross, OH) found the back of the net by heading in a brilliant pass from fellow senior Kasey Crow (Chillicothe, OH) on a direct kick with 2:08 remaining.
The RedStorm failed to get off another shot attempt, however, allowing the Bulldogs to escape with the win.
Rio was outshot 13-3 in the first period of play, but enjoyed a 17-5 advantage in shots in the second stanza.
Union goalkeeper Juliana Schardong stopped six shots in a winning effort, while Garn finished with seven saves – all in the first half.
Rio Grande will return to action Saturday evening in a pivotal KIAC match against Point Park. Both teams are unbeaten in league play.
Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. at Evan E. Davis Field.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.