BECKLEY, W.Va. — The match tabbed as the River States Conference Men’s Soccer Game of the Week certainly lived up to its billing.
Second-ranked University of Rio Grande grabbed a lead just minutes into the game, while No. 13 West Virginia University-Tech netted the equalizer in the second half and the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw at a foggy YMCA/Phil Cline Memorial Soccer Complex.
Rio Grande moved to 11-1-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the RSC as a result of the tie, which snapped a four-match win streak.
The Golden Bears finished the night 11-1-2 overall and 3-0-1 in league play.
Senior Lucas Talaveira-Befi (Sao Paulo, Brazil) gave the RedStorm the early advantage, taking a crossing pass from the left side of the box off the foot of junior teammate Jorge Guinovart (Barcelona, Spain) and pushing a shot past Tech net-minder Hunter Moles.
That’s how things stayed until the Golden Bears notched the tying marker just 8:20 into the second stanza.
Rio Grande failed to clear the ball from the front of the goal after a corner kick chance by Tech and Ignacio Tellechea took advantage by firing a shot through the midst of the melee past Rio sophomore keeper Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France).
The shot was one of 10 in the second half of regulation by the Golden Bears, who finished the night with a 13-10 edge in shots. It was the first time this season that the opposition outshot the RedStorm.
Rio Grande, which did enjoy a 7-3 edge in corner kick chances, was responsible for three of the four combined shots in the overtime periods, including two in the final extra session which produced dazzling saves by Moles.
Martinez and Moles both finished with three saves apiece in the contest, which was a rematch of last year’s Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament final.
The game included 38 common fouls – 22 of which were whistled on Rio – and four yellow card cautions – three of which were handed to the Golden Bears.
Rio Grande, which was playing its sixth game against a Top 25 opponent, will return to action on Saturday night, hosting Carlow University for a 7 p.m. kick at Evan E. Davis Field.
The Celtics, who are in their first year of fielding a men’s soccer team, earned their first RSC victory of the year with a 2-0 triumph over Ohio Christian on Thursday night.
The annual Rockets Over Rio Fireworks display will follow the conclusion of Saturday’s match at 9:30 p.m.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.