RIO GRANDE, Ohio – California, here we come.
Ewan McLauchlan’s first half goal proved to be the only score needed in the University of Rio Grande’s 1-0 win over Huntington (Ind.) University, Saturday afternoon, in the opening round of the NAIA Men’s Soccer Championship presented by Select Soccer at a chilly and rainy Evan E. Davis Field.
Rio Grande, ranked No. 10 in the most recent NAIA Coaches’ Top 25, improved to 16-3-1 with the victory and advances to the tourney’s second round where it will face the University of Northwestern Ohio on Monday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. EST, at OC Great Park Stadium in Irvine, Calif.
Huntington, which was among the teams receiving votes in the same coaches’ poll, finished 15-5-3 with the loss.
Scoring opportunities were few and far between for either team in Saturday’s physical contest, which featured a combined 29 common fouls – 15 on the Foresters and 14 on Rio – in addition to six yellow card cautions and two red disqualifications.
The RedStorm enjoyed a 15-3 edge in shots overall and a 5-0 advantage in shots on goal, while also having six of the game’s eight corner kick opportunities.
The game’s lone goal came with 7:19 remaining in the first half when McLauchlan – a junior from Aroch, Scotland – gathered in the deflection of a corner kick by freshman Sebastian Borquez (Santiago, Chile) and booted a one-timer into the upper left hand corner of the goal.
Rio Grande had two other chances in the second half to put the win on ice, but sophomore Nicolas Cam Orellana (Santiago, Chile) had a shot deflect off the post with 16:46 left to play and Huntington keeper Gabe Greenfield made a dazzling stop of a shot by Cam Orellana with 5:30 remaining in the contest.
Senior keeper Richard Dearle (Castle Donington, England) did not record a save in a clean sheet effort for Rio.
Greenfield recorded four saves in a losing cause for Huntington. He and teammate Mario McLennon were issued red card disqualifications as time expired.
The win was Rio’s 11th in 12 all-time opening round appearances.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.