DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Top-seeded University of Rio Grande scored a pair of first half goals – one early and one late – and rode a strong defensive effort the rest of the way to a 2-0 win over Union (Ky.) in the second round of the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship, Monday morning, at the Seacrest Soccer Complex.
The RedStorm improved to 20-1 with the victory, avenging their only loss of the season in the process.
Union, which was ranked No. 13 in the final regular season coaches’ poll and seeded No. 16, finished its season at 17-2-4.
The win also sends Rio into the quarterfinal round of the tournament and a meeting with 23rd-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University, which ousted Southeastern (Fla.) University, 1-0, in another of Monday’s second round contests, on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
“We came out of the gates and man we were good,” said Rio Grande head coach Scott Morrissey. “Those first 10-15 minutes always seem to be a battle for us, but we weathered that stretch pretty well. Once we got the lead, we did a pretty good job of limiting their opportunities the rest of the way.”
Rio Grande finished with a 17-2 edge in shots, including a 7-1 advantage in shots on frame.
Union did not get off a shot in the second half.
“It was a big result for us,” Morrissey added. “It’s always difficult just getting to the final site, but then you have get over the hump of the first match you play when you get here and we were able to do that. Everybody contributed to the win in their own way, but I thought our defense, in particular, was outstanding.”
The RedStorm scored what proved to be the only goal they would need just over 13 minutes into the contest when senior Luiz Filho (Sao Paulo, Brazil) gathered in a pass from the left wing by sophomore Joao Paulo Antonio (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and pushed a shot past Union goalkeeper Marcelo Mercuri.
The lead reached 2-0 with 4:33 left before the intermission when senior Kimathi Kaumbutho (Nairobi, Kenya) headed in a corner kick by junior Jeremy de Hoog (Rotterdam, The Netherlands).
Freshman goalie Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) recorded his 11th clean sheet of the season and was credited with one save.
Mercuri had five saves in the loss for the Bulldogs, who had beaten Rio Grande, 2-1, on Oct. 3 in Barbourville, Ky.
“We got both of the goals in the first half and, had it not been for a pretty nice save by their goalkeeper on a PK, we could’ve had a third,” Morrissey said. “What we did accomplish offensively early on made a difference and, because of the defensive effort after that, we never really seemed to be in danger. Hopefully, we can take that same kind effort into the match on Wednesday against Indiana Wesleyan. We’re very familiar with them and know the kind of quality team and program that they have.”
Live video of Wednesday’s game will be available on a pay-per-view basis through www.NAIANetwork.com.
Live statistics will also be available at http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Webcasts.aspx?association=10.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.