Top-ranked RedStorm bounce No. 13 Bulldogs

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande men’s soccer program stubbed its toe against Union (Ky.) College during the 2015 regular season en route to an eventual NAIA national championship.

Such was not the case when the two teams got together again on Tuesday night.

The RedStorm, who actually avenged last year’s loss with a win over the Bulldogs in the second round of the national tournament, made it two straight victories over their regional rival with a 2-0 triumph at Evan E. Davis Field.

Rio Grande, ranked No. 1 in the most recent NAIA Top 25 poll, ran its season record to 7-0 and won for the 19th consecutive time dating back to last year’s loss to UC.

The Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 13 nationally, slipped to 5-2 with the loss.

Union was forced to play a man down for the final 61-plus minutes of the match after Jason Jacobs received a straight red card dismissal for dangerous play.

The ejection was part of a physical match which included 24 common fouls between the two squads, in addition to six yellow card cautions.

Rio Grande limited the Bulldogs to just two shots on frame and outshot its guest altogether, 19-6.

Senior Pau Delgado Rodriguez (Barcelona, Spain) scored what proved to be the only goal the RedStorm would need just 14:37 into the contest, thanks to a nifty double-assist from sophomores Harry Reilly (Coventry, England) and Eduardo Zurita (Sant Boi de Llobregat, Spain).

Reilly delivered a crossing pass from the left wing to Zurita, who dumped a quick touch pass off to the right to Rodriguez and a subsequent score.

That’s how things stayed until sophomore Ben Mendoza (Chichester, England) scored off of a feed from junior Jorge Guinovart (Barcelona, Spain) with 22:43 left in the contest, as the two raced down the left side of the pitch on a breakaway toward the goal.

Sophomore Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) recorded a pair of saves in his fourth clean sheet of the season.

Marcelo Mercuri had four stops in net for Union.

Rio Grande returns to the pitch on Saturday afternoon when it travels to Lima, Ohio to face No. 18 University of Northwestern Ohio. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing