RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Harry Reilly registered the first hat trick of his collegiate career and assisted on another goal, leading the University of Rio Grande to a 5-1 win over St. Thomas (Fla.) University in the opening round of the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship, Saturday afternoon, at cold, windswept Evan E. Davis Field.
Pau Delgado Rodriguez added a pair of assists in the win for the second-seeded RedStorm, who improved to 19-1-1 overall while earning a second round date with No. 15 seed Corban (Ore.) – a 1-0 winner over Menlo (Calif.) in another of Saturday’s opening round matchups – on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 11 a.m., at the Seacrest Soccer Complex in Delray Beach, Fla.
St. Thomas, which was making the school’s second all-time NAIA tourney appearance, finished 9-7-2 with the loss.
Reilly, a sophomore from Coventry, England, scored each of the RedStorm’s final three goals – one in the first half and two after the break – to secure the win.
Reilly took a pass from Rodriguez – a senior from Barcelona, Spain, and fired a shot which deflected off of a St. Thomas defender and Bobcat goal keeper Connor Christie and into the net for a 3-1 Rio Grande lead with 9:00 left in the first half.
Reilly, who had four goals for the entire season entering Saturday’s game, scored again at 59:38 off a nifty crossing pass from junior Joao Paulo Antonio (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and found the net again just over two minutes from the top of the 18 yard box – thanks to an assist by Rodriguez – to set the final score.
Rio Grande, the defending NAIA national champion, scored twice in a span of just 2:07 to take an early 2-0 lead.
Junior Jorge Guinovart (Barcelona, Spain) scored on the rebound of his own blocked shot at the 14:48 mark and senior Lucas Talaveira-Befi (Sao Paulo, Brazil) found the net on a breakaway to the goal at 16:55, with Reilly earning an assist.
St. Thomas sliced the deficit in half with 17:04 left before the intermission thanks to a defensive miscue by the RedStorm.
On a Bobcat throw-in from the right corner, the ball deflected off of a Rio defender and past sophomore net-minder Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) to make it 2-1.
As things turned out, that was as close as STU would get to a goal.
Rio finished with a 19-4 edge in shots, including a 10-0 advantage in shots on frame.
The RedStorm also enjoyed a 12-2 cushion in corner kick opportunities. St. Thomas had both of its corner kicks inside the game’s first four minutes.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.