MARION, Indiana — Eduardo Cruz scored off an assist from Will Monsour with just over eight minutes remaining to lift top-ranked Belhaven (Miss.) University past the University of Rio Grande, 2-1, Saturday afternoon, in the final round of the Indiana Wesleyan University Classic at Wildcat Field.
The Blazers, last year’s NAIA national champions, stopped a two-game losing slide in evening their season mark at 2-2-1.
Rio Grande, ranked No. 9 in the preseason coaches poll, suffered its first loss in four outings and had a 17-game regular season unbeaten streak which dated back to last year snapped.
Cruz’s goal at the 81:55 mark snapped a 1-1 tie and allowed Belhaven to complete its rally from an early deficit.
Rio Grande grabbed a 1-0 advantage just over 13 minutes into the match when senior forward Orlando Zapata (Medellin, Colombia) found the back of the net off an assist from senior midfielder Maxi Viera (Montevideo, Uruguay).
Belhaven answered just over nine minutes into the second half when Jermaine Metz scored off an assist by Victor Lawrence and that’s how things stayed until Cruz’s go-ahead goal.
Rio Grande outshot the Blazers, 9-8, but did not manage a shot attempt in the final eight minutes of the match.
RedStorm junior goal keeper Jon Dodson (Tiffin, OH) was credited with three saves in a losing cause, while Carl Blundell had a pair of stops in the win for Belhaven.
The physical affair included 33 fouls - 18 against the RedStorm and 15 against Belhaven - and a trio of yellow card cautions.
Rio Grande returns to action next Saturday when Bryan (Tenn.) College visits Evan E. Davis Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff.