COLUMBIA, Ky. — Richard Isberner scored one goal and assisted on another, while Caio Cruz and Brodie Steigerwald scored second half markers to lift the top-seeded University of Rio Grande past No. 4 seed University of the Cumberlands, 3-1, Wednesday night, in the semifinal round of the Mid-South Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament at Lindsey Wilson College’s Walter S. Rueling Stadium.
The RedStorm, ranked second in the latest NAIA coaches poll, improved to 15-1-1 with the victory and advanced to Thursday night’s title game against top-ranked and No. 2-seeded Lindsey Wilson.
The Blue Raiders outlasted sixth-seeded Cumberland University, 5-4, in last night’s second semifinal match.
Rio Grande enjoyed a 16-2 edge in shots in Wednesday’s win over the Patriots, including a 13-0 advantage in the second half. The shot figures also included a 9-2 cushion in shots on goal for the RedStorm.
Isberner snapped a scoreless tie when he rifled a shot past UC goal keeper Filipe Lima from the upper right corner of the 18-yard box with 13:15 left in the first half.
Cumberlands (9-7-1) answered just over 8-1/2 minutes later when Daniel Ferreira scored an unassisted goal to knot the score at 1-1.
That’s how things stayed until the 58:43 mark when Cruz scored off of an Isberner assist to give Rio the lead for good.
Steigerwald set the final score at 67:02 scoring courtesy of a feed from senior forward Rafael Maccauro.
Senior net-minder Jack Marchant went the distance in goal for the RedStorm and recorded one save.
Lima stopped six shots in a route-going performance for the Patriots.
While emerging with the win, Rio Grande saw two of its key players incur significant injuries. Senior midfielder Oliver Hewitt-Fisher suffered a broken nose and junior defender Craig Davies was the victim of a hamstring injury.
According to head coach Scott Morrissey, Hewitt-Fisher will play in Thursday’s title game against Lindsey Wilson, but Davies will miss the contest.
Rio Grande won the regular season meeting between the two teams, defeating the defending national champions 3-2 in overtime on September 29 at Evan E.Davis Field in Rio Grande. The loss snapped a 38-game winning streak for the Blue Raiders (18-1).
Kickoff for the championship game is set for 8:30 p.m.