Rio Grande advances to NAIA semifinals

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Luiz Filho gave top-seeded University of Rio Grande a lead just 36 seconds into the match and the RedStorm never looked back, cruising to a 3-0 win over Indiana Wesleyan in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship, Wednesday afternoon, at a hot and humid Seacrest Soccer Complex.

The RedStorm, who were also ranked No. 1 in the nation entering the tournament, improved to 21-1 with the victory and advanced to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history and the first time since 2009.

Head coach Scott Morrissey’s squad will face No. 4 seed Missouri Valley — a 3-0 victor over 12th-seeded Rocky Mountain in another of Wednesday’s quarterfinal round matchups — in Friday’s semifinal round at 4 p.m.

Indiana Wesleyan, which was unseeded in the tourney, but ranked No. 23 in the final regular season coaches’ poll, finished 16-6-1 with the loss.

Filho, a senior from Sao Paulo, Brazil, collected a perfectly placed crossing pass from the left side by sophomore Joao Paulo Antonio (Sao Paulo, Brazil) on the game’s opening possession and fired a shot past IWU goalkeeper Josh Goepper for a 1-0 lead.

Just over 15 minutes later, freshman Eduardo Zurita (Barcelona, Spain) played a through ball from sophomore Danny Carroll (Liverpool, England) and blistered a shot to the far post for a 2-0 advantage.

Junior Heitor de Melo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) closed out the scoring with 14:30 left before the intermission when he kicked in a loose ball off a free kick by junior Jeremy de Hoog (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) from 30 yards out.

“We started very well,” Morrissey said. “When you do that — and score early — it changes the game. After we scored the third goal, it was just a matter of managing things the rest of the way.”

Rio attempted just four shots in the second half and finished with a 12-6 advantage for the game, including a 4-2 edge in shots on goal.

Freshman goalkeeper Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) had two saves and was credited with his 12th shutout of the season.

Goepper had one save in the loss for the Wildcats.

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

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing