RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Liam Heywood’s third goal of the game – on a penalty kick with 12:58 left to play – snapped the second tie of the day and lifted Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) University to a 5-4 upset of the University of Rio Grande in the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Opening Round, Saturday afternoon, at an overcast, wind-blown Evan E. Davis Field.
The Wolves, who won for the first time in three national tournament appearances, improved to 16-3-2 with the victory and will advance to the tourney’s second round to face Wayland Bapist (TX) – which upended 13th-seeded MidAmerican Nazarene (Kan.), 2-1, in another of Saturday’s contests – on Monday, Nov. 27, at 11 a.m., in Delray Beach, Fla.
Rio Grande, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, saw its bid for a third straight appearance in the national championship game squashed and ended its season at 14-2-2.
The rare home loss was notable in a number of other ways for head coach Scott Morrissey’s club.
The RedStorm fell in the Opening Round for the first time since the tournament adopted its current format in 2008 and the setback ended a 47-match unbeaten streak at home which dated back to a 2-1 loss at the hands of the University of Northwestern on October 30, 2013.
The five goals allowed by Rio were the most since the RedStorm surrendered three scores in a 5-3 triumph over Talladega College in the semifinal round of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on November 14, 2014. Prior to Saturday’s loss, the last time an opponent scored five goals or more against the RedStorm was Dec. 4, 2013 – a 5-1 loss to now-defunct Ashford (Iowa) University in the quarterfinal round of the NAIA National Championship.
Heywood secured his hat trick – and what proved to be the game winner marker – just 21 seconds after Rio Grande sophomore Deri Corfe (Chester, England) knotted the score at 4-4 with a penalty kick of his own.
The RedStorm had just one solid scoring chance after the Heywood PK, but a header by Corfe following a corner kick by junior Harry Reilly (Coventry, England) with 9:04 remaining hit off the crossbar and a subsequent follow by junior Omar Walcott (Kingston, Jamaica) sailed over the goal.
Rio Grande, which played without the services of junior Eduardo Zurita (Sant Boi de Llobregat, Spain), who suffered a season-ending knee injury against WVU-Tech in the semifinal round of the RSC Tournament, fell despite enjoying a staggering 32-11 advantage in overall shots – 12-6 in shots on goal – and a 19-3 edge in corner kick chances.
Stritch took advantage of its corner opportunities, though, turning each of their first two tries into goals.
Heywood headed in a ball struck by teammate Scott Evans just 9:07 into the match and Teren Schuster did the same just over seven minutes later for a quick 2-0 Wolves’ lead.
Rio got on the scoreboard when Corfe headed in a cross from the right wing by freshman Samuel Pedersen (Aldershot, England) with 15:10 remaining in the half to make it 2-1, but Stritch got the goal back just 47 seconds later when an attempt to clear the ball by Rio senior Danny Carroll (Liverpool, England) hit Heywood, who recovered to gather in the ball just outside the 18-yard box and push a shot past Rio freshman keeper Luis Rodriguez (San Jose, Costa Rica) for another two-goal cushion.
The RedStorm rallied, though, tying the game at 3-3 with a pair of markers inside the first 15 minutes of the second half – one by Carroll with 37:11 left to play on a header off a corner kick by Reilly and the other just over seven minutes later by Walcott, who got behind the Wolves’ defensive back line and beat Stritch keeper Pablo Ortiz in a one-on-one situation.
Gian Pico put the Wolves back in front with 19:29 remaining by tapping in a deflection which resulted from a mad scramble in front of the goal following a corner kick, setting up the two penalty kicks which closed out the scoring.
Ortiz was credited with seven saves in the win for Cardinal Stritch.
Rodriguez recorded one save in a losing cause for Rio Grande.
Saturday’s loss was the last match in a Rio uniform for a quartet of seniors – Carroll, Jorge Guinovart (Barcelona, Spain), Matheus Morgan (Vila Velha, Brazil) and Isaiah Chapman (Cincinnati, OH).
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.
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