Rio Grande --- It was anything but easy for the NAIA's top team, the University of Rio Grande RedStorm, but they were able to advance to the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship final site after an opening round, 2-1 victory over Bethel (IN) College on Saturday afternoon at Rio's Evan Davis Field.
RedStorm edge Bethel; advances to NAIA Final Site
Men's Soccer - Sat, Nov. 20, 2010
Rio Grande (22-0), the top seed in the field, played well early but had difficulty finishing chances. The RedStorm finally broke through in the 31st minute on a goal from junior defender Neil Harries (Lancashire, England). He was assisted by sophomore forward Richard Isberner (Sao Paulo, Brazil).
Rio carried the 1-nil lead to halftime. The start of the second half was spirited as both teams ratcheted up the intensity. The 1-0 lead held up until the 63rd minute
when Bethel's Zach Ganzberg tied the game on a penalty kick, shooting it past Rio junior goalkeeper Jack Marchant (Leeds, England).
The game looked to be destined for overtime as Bethel (14-8) shut off Rio attacks throughout the second half. The RedStorm regained the lead in the 84th minute on a header from sophomore midfielder/forward Oliver Hewitt-Fisher (Swansea, Wales). Hewitt-Fisher received a great feed from senior midfielder Dylan Williams (Bangor, Wales) from the opposite side of the box.
Rio Grande head coach Scott Morrissey knew the game would be much different from the regular season result, which was a 7-0 victory by the RedStorm. "They (Bethel) made a great statement for themselves today in how they played and battled," said Morrissey. "It was definitely going to be a different game than from the first time we played them."
"I thought the first 45 minutes our execution was good, the final ball in the box wasn't necessarily the best and I thought we had chances that we could have put them away in the first half," Morrissey added. "In the second half, I felt like the complexion of the game changed and they really started throwing numbers forward and there were some pretty questionable calls that really changed the way the game was going."
"I just felt like we didn't play a very good second half and didn't keep very good composure about ourselves, but we still managed to regroup and it was a great finish from Ollie and great delivery from Dylan," he said. "We're happy to move on."
Rio out-shot Bethel, 15-4 and held a 7-1 edge in shots on goal. Cody Troyer posted six saves for the Pilots.
It was third time in NAIA Tournament history that Rio Grande had defeated Bethel. Rio is now 17-6-2 all-time in the national tournament. Bethel is 2-10-2 all-time in NAIA Tourney play.
Rio Grande will advance to the second round at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, Ala., November 29. The RedStorm will face the winner of Bethel (TN) and No. 16 seed William Carey at 12 p.m.