Union College men's soccer team upsets No. 1 University of Rio Grande

Published on
October 05, 2015

Union College men's soccer team upsets No. 1 University of Rio GrandeSometimes it's better to be lucky than good, but it's even better when you are lucky and good. Such was the case for No. 25 Union College as it defeated visiting No. 1 University of Rio Grande (Ohio) 2-1 on Saturday in non-conference men's soccer action.

"Rio is a perennial power. Scott Morriessy has a class program there," said Union coach Tyler Brock. "It's just nice to know that Union is back up there and we can compete with anybody if we go out and put forth the effort."

It had been 14 years and one day since Union last defeated a No. 1 team. On Oct. 2, 2001, Union won 3-2 at Lindsey Wilson College, which owned the top spot at the time.

The Bulldogs (9-0-2 overall) were outshot 29-8 for the game. In addition, the Red Storm (11-1 overall) kept constant pressure on the Bulldog defense as they forced 18 corner kicks for the game with 11 coming in the second half.

Early on, it appeared Rio Grande was going to crack the scoring column first. In the 13th minute, Luiz Filho had beat Union goalkeeper Marcelo Mercuri (JR/Sao Paulo, Brazil) to the far right side. However, Jason Jacobs (JR/Downs, Manchester, Jamaica) sprinted in and was able to clear the ball from going as it was mere inches away from closing the line.

Jacobs played a stellar defense all game as did the entire Union backline. He spent much of the game keeping tabs on Rio Grande's Paul Rodriguez, who earned NAIA All-American First Team honors last season. Rodriguez entered the game with three goals and four assists, but he was limited to five shots with only one going on frame.

"Jacobs had his hands full with him last year," Brock said of the junior defender. "Jason is one of those guys who loves stepping up to a challenge. He hates to lose more than probably anyone on the team, and he took last year's loss personally. He wanted to make sure they didn't get anything from his side. He did a great job, had great coverage. Just a great game from him."

Within a three-minute span, Union struck twice to seize a 2-0 advantage. In the 19th minute, Luke Hitchman (SO/Abergavenny, Wales) sent a free kick from 50 yards out, and George Carroll (JR/Chester, England) was able to direct the ball in for the game's first tally.

Taking advantage of a poorly played ball by the Red Storm defense, Andre Scott (JR/St. Catherine, Jamaica) corralled it and lofted it over goalkeeper Benjamin Martinez, who came out to try to play the ball. After 21 minutes of play, the Bulldogs owned a 2-0 lead.

"The game opened up for us two or three times to be able to go off and finish," Brock said.

In the second half, Rio Grande mounted a constant offensive attack. The Red Storm outshot the Bulldogs 18-3 during the final 45 minutes. In fact, Union did not register its first shot in the second half until the 84th minute. 

"In the second half, we told our guys you've got to keep doing what we were doing in the first half, except we need to possess a little bit more. Unfortunately, we possessed a lot less," Brock said. "They kept throwing numbers at us. We did a great job defensively. Our backline came up big two or three times. It was just a great team effort."

Jorge Guinovart cut the margin in half when he found the back of the net in the 76th minute.

Rio Grande got four shots off in the waning moments of the game, but two of them were blocked by the Union defense with Mercuri recording saves of the other two as Union held on for the 2-1 victory.

Mercuri finished the game with eight saves in recording the shutout.

Union will travel to Georgetown College (Ky.) for a non-conference tilt. Game time is set for 7 p.m.