RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Heitor de Melo scored his second goal of the night with 6:31 remaining to lift the University of Rio Grande past previously-unbeaten Bryan (Tenn.) College, 3-2, Saturday night, in non-conference men’s soccer action at Evan E. Davis Field.
The RedStorm, ranked No. 8 in the latest NAIA poll, improved to 4-1 with the win and rebounded from a loss to then-No. 1 Belhaven University last weekend.
The Lions suffered their first setback in five outings.
“We’re fortunate that we got the game-winner with a few minutes left and got the result that we wanted, but we’re not managing the game very well right now and we need to do a better job of finishing when we have opportunities,” said Rio Grande head coach Scott Morrissey. “If we can put those two things together, I think we’ll be O.K.”
The game-winning goal by de Melo - a header past Bryan net-minder Josh Oldroyd off of a pass from teammate Craig Davies - finally gave Rio a lead it would not relinquish.
The RedStorm enjoyed leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but failed to hang on to either advantage.
“We got the lead and had opportunities to put them away, but then we give up a goal off a deadball set piece,” Morrissey said. “We got the lead back and had more chances to put them away, but we gave up another goal off a deadball set piece. We cannot keep doing that. That’s an area we have to work on.”
de Melo, a freshman defender from Sao Paulo, Brazil, gave Rio a 1-0 lead just 3:42 into the contest thanks to an assist from fellow freshman Callum Cobb (Aldershot, England).
Bryan rebounded, though, and tied the game on an unassisted marker by Zach McCown at the 29:24 mark of the first half.
The RedStorm regained the lead just over five minutes into the second stanza when freshman Pau Rodriguez (Barcelona, Spain) booted in a ball that ricocheted off of Oldroyd, but the Lions rallied again and knotted the score at 2-2 with just under 10 minutes left to play when Khankhalifa Kanne found the back of the net via an assist from Josh Smotherman.
A little more than three minutes later, de Melo delivered the go-ahead marker from Davies (Wolverhampton, England).
Rio Grande enjoyed a 16-8 edge in shots, including a 7-5 advantage in shots on goal.
Junior keeper Jon Dodson (Tiffin, OH) had three saves en route to the win for the RedStorm, while Oldroyd stopped four shots in a losing cause for the Lions.
The physical affair also included 42 fouls - 23 against Rio and 19 whistled on Bryan - as well as four yellow card cautions (three of which were administered against the RedStorm).
Rio Grande returns to action on Wednesday night, hosting Georgetown College in its Mid-South Conference opener. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.