RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Junior forward Willian Paulino scored a pair of second half goals to help the top-seeded University of Rio Grande pull away for a 3-1 win over No. 2 seed West Virginia University-Tech in the championship game of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament, Saturday night, at Evan E. Davis Field.
The RedStorm, who entered the game ranked No. 1 in the latest NAIA Top 25, improved to 18-1 with the victory, earning the KIAC’s automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament in the process.
WVU-Tech, ranked 25th nationally, slipped to 16-2 with the loss, Both setbacks came at the hands of Rio Grande.
Senior Luiz Filho (Sao Paulo, Brazil) gave Rio Grande a lead it would never relinquish just 11:03 into the match, taking a feed from junior Heitor de Melo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and whistling a shot past Tech net-minder Hunter Moles for a 1-0 lead.
Paulino, the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year, scored an unassisted marker at the 63:39 mark and added an insurance marker thanks to a nifty assist from sophomore Spencer Reinford (McAlisterville, PA) with 8:51 remaining in the match.
WVU-Tech, which actually finished with a 15-14 edge in shots and a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal, avoided the shutout just over a minute-and-a-half later when Francisco Neto scored on a penalty kick.
Rio freshman goalkeeper Ben Martinez, the conference Defensive Player of the Year, finished with three saves in the victory.
Moles did not record a save for the Golden Bears.
Rio Grande will play its opening round game in the national tournament – against an opponent still to be announced – on Saturday, at noon, at Evan E. Davis Field.
WVU-Tech will find out if it receives a national tourney bid when the list of 32 participants is announced Monday.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.