CHICAGO, Ill. – The same formula which helped the University of Rio Grande men’s soccer team capture a national championship last season – an early lead and lockdown defense – produced a victory on Friday night as the RedStorm began the process of defending their title.
Danny Carroll gave Rio a lead just over 18 minutes into the match and the RedStorm limited host St. Xavier University to just three total shots in an eventual 2-0 triumph over the Cougars at Deaton Field.
Carroll, a junior from Liverpool, England, pushed a shot from 15 yards out past SXU goal keeper Frank Valle and into the lower right corner of the net with 26:29 remaining in the opening stanza to give the top-ranked RedStorm all of the offense it would need.
Senior Heitor de Melo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) set the final score by scoring on a free kick from 20 yards out with 12:07 left to play.
Meanwhile, Rio Grande allowed its host just three shots in the contest – all in the first half.
Sophomore goal keeper Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) recorded a save in the Cougars’ only shot on frame.
Valle recorded six saves in the loss for St. Xavier, which was outshot by the RedStorm, 17-3.
Rio Grande lost the services of junior forward Joao Paulo Antonio (Sao Paulo, Brazil) after he was issued a yellow card caution and subsequent red card ejection with just over 23 minutes left in the match.
Antonio will be sidelined for the final part of the RedStorm’s season-opening road swing to the Windy City – a meeting with Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. EDT.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.