DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Jeremy de Hoog and his powerful right leg are certainly showing a flair for the dramatic on the nation’s biggest stage.
The senior from Rotterdam, The Netherlands, who scored the winning goal in last year’s national championship game against Mid-American Nazarene, was up to his old tricks again on Wednesday night.
de Hoog found the upper left corner of the goal from 30 yards out with 8:34 left in regulation to snap a scoreless tie and give the University of Rio Grande a 1-0 win over Union (Ky.) College in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship at the Seacreast Soccer Complex.
Rio Grande, the tourney’s No. 2 seed, improved to 21-1-1 with the victory and punched its ticket to Friday’s semifinal round against Davenport (Mich.) – a 3-2 double-overtime winner over William Carey (Miss.) in the last of Wednesday’s quarterfinal contests.
The RedStorm, who also bounced Union as part of its title run a year ago, completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs. Rio won a 2-0 decision in the regular season on Sept. 13 at Evan E. Davis Field.
Union, which was seeded 7th in the tourney, finished 19-3-2 with the loss.
Rio Grande finished with an 18-8 edge in shots – including an 11-3 advantage in the second half – but the RedStorm and Bulldogs combined for just six shots on frame.
Rio had five of the shots on goal, the last of which produced the game-winner.
de Hoog gathered in a deflected ball on the right side of the field and let fly with a laser shot which just eluded the outstretched arms of Union net-minder Marcelo Mercuri for the go-ahead marker.
Union managed a pair of shots in the final two minutes, but neither was on goal.
Sophomore goal keeper Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) stopped one shot en route to the shutout win for Rio Grande, which played without the services of senior defender Heitor de Melo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – the River States Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
The RedStorm also lost senior Patricio Arce (Santiago, Chile) to a red card disqualification with 34:59 left in the match. He will be ineligible for Friday’s semifinal game.
Mercuri had four saves for Union, which had two players of its own dismissed by red cards in the final 2-1/2 minutes.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.