Rio Grande Sports Information
RIO GRANDE, Ohio - Freshman forward Kenny Doublette (Greenwich, CT) scored one goal and assisted on two others, leading the fifth-seeded University of Rio Grande to a 4-1 win over Madonna (Mich.) University in the 2011 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Opening Round, Saturday evening, at Evan E. Davis Field.
The RedStorm improved to 18-2 with the victory and advanced to the tournament's round of 16 where they'll face No. 12 seed Bellhaven (Miss.), a 3-2 winner over Texas at Brownsville, in one of the 14 other opening round contests.
Rio Grande jumped to a 2-0 first half lead and was never threatened.
The RedStorm finished with a 26-7 edge in shots, including a 14-0 advantage in the opening stanza.
"I thought we played really well in the first half," said Rio Grande head coach Scott Morrissey. "I know it was only 2-0, but I thought it was a good performance. We were decent the first half of the second half and then we got a little complacent the rest of the way and conceded a goal that basically came off of our own mistake by losing possession and defensive shape in a critical spot on the field but, overall, it was a good showing and we're advancing."
Rio Grande grabbed a lead it would never relinquish at 9:15 of the first half when senior midfielder Joel Thiessen (Newcastle, Australia) found the back of the net after rebounding a miss by junior forward Rafael Maccauro (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in front of the net.
Just over 14 minutes later, the lead grew to 2-0 when junior forward Richard Isberner (Sao Paulo, Brazil) scored his 28th goal of the season off a feed from Doublette.
Isberner, the Mid-South Conference Player of the Year, was back in the lineup for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury of the first half of the RedStorm's win over the University of the Cumberlands, Nov. 9, in the semifinal round of the MSC Tournament.
Shortly after scoring his goal, Isberner was removed from the lineup and did not return.
"I know this is going to sound crazy, but Richie got a good 25 or 30 minutes in and, at 2-0, I felt like we could take him off and give him another week to continue to recover," Morrissey said. "That was the plan all along. He's fine."
Doublette made it 3-0 with an unassisted marker at 65:59 and, exactly three minutes later, he assisted on a marker by junior forward Scott Bibby (Doncaster, England).
"I thought our ball possession was good, that we executed and we did what we needed to do," said Morrissey. "I think having Richie out there changes the entire dynamic of the team and having him back out there was a big lift. And I thought Kenny played really, really well tonight. Sometimes you don't know what to expect from him and that frustrates our players - he's so unpredictable that they don't know what he's going to do. But the one thing he does that nobody else can do is, with the ball at his feet, he can change the game with his individual pace and his ability to take people on - it's difficult for the opposition to deal with."
Madonna, which finished 7-9-5, avoided a shutout when Nick Atwood scored with the aid of an assist from Dane Laird at 78:51.
The Crusaders, who were whistled for 18 fouls and issued three yellow cards, also were hurt by the loss of junior midfielder Franco Giorgi, who did not return after suffering a knee injury just over seven minutes into the match.
Junior keeper Jack Marchant (Leeds, England) recorded two stops in goal for the RedStorm, while Adrian Motta had nine saves in the loss for Madonna.
Saturday's game also marked the return of Rio Grande sophomore defender Craig Davies (Birmingham, England) to the pitch. He'd been sidelined all season as he recovered from knee surgery.
Morrissey said Davies' return will help the RedStorm's chances of making a run at a national title as it embarks for Alabama next week.
"I think having Craig back is going to be a big plus for us. It's been a long time coming for him," Morrissey said. "Now we'll have a hard, hard week of training before head south. Hopefully, when we get down there, we'll do our best."