DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Jeremy de Hoog will never be regarded as one of the most prolific scorers to play men’s soccer at the University of Rio Grande.
He will, however, forever be remembered as someone who delivered one of the most memorable goals in the program’s storied history.
de Hoog scored on a free kick with 4:59 remaining in overtime to give the top-seeded RedStorm a 1-0 win over MidAmerican Nazarene (Kan.) in the title game of the 2015 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship at the Seacrest Soccer Complex.
The championship was the second national title for Rio Grande, which finished 23-1, and its first since 2003.
A native of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, de Hoog launched a perfectly-placed bullet from 35 yards out which eluded the outstretched arms of a leaping Juan Pablo Riesco — the MidAmerican Nazarene goalkeeper — and nestled into the upper left corner of the net, touching off a wild on-field celebration.
“When we knew we were going to have the wind at our back in the overtime, we knew on set pieces, corners or anything in the middle third of the field that Jeremy was going to be on them,” Rio Grande head coach Scott Morrissey said. “He’s worked on those kind of dead ball deliveries all season long and it was an amazing strike. He couldn’t have hit it any better.”
The goal was just the second score of the season for de Hoog, who transferred into the program from Midland (Neb.) University prior to the start of the season.
“It didn’t surprise me, yet it did in terms of the pace that the ball went off his foot,” Morrissey said of de Hoog’s game-winning marker. “He kicked it and then it was in the back of the net – and it was from probably 40 yards out. It was an unbeliveable strike to win a national championship.”
de Hoog was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the tournament. He also had two of his season total 10 assists during the course of the RedStorm’s title run.
Freshman goalkeeper Ben Martinez (Montpellier, France) was named the Most Valuable Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the tournament. He recorded four saves and his fourth consecutive shutout in the title game victory.
The last goal Martinez allowed was in the NAIA Opening Round win on Nov. 21 against Bethel (Tenn.) – a span of more than 417 scoreless minutes to end his freshmen campaign.
MidAmerican Nazarene, which entered the tourney as the No. 10 seed, finished 18-6-1 with the loss and was shutout for just the second time this season.
Both teams were limited in their scoring opportunities from the outset, with each managing just 10 shots in the contest. Rio finished with a 5-4 edge in shots on frame.
“When we went against the wind in the first half, we knew it was going to be difficult to clear our lines. They really pinned us in and, to their credit, they put a lot of pressure on us,” Morrissey said. “The goal was to just get through the first 45 minutes at 0-0 and then have the wind at our back in the second half and try to pin them in. I thought we did that, but we didn’t get many opportunities for ourselves. It was a strange game.”
Martinez and de Hoog were joined on the all-tournament team by junior midfielder Willian Paulino (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and sophomore defenders Jorge Guinovart (Barcelona, Spain) and Danny Carroll (Liverpool, England).
“These guys have been very resilient, they’ve worked extremely hard and they’re just a great group of guys,” Morrissey said of his team, which won its final 12 matches and survived a 21-day layoff just before the start of the post-season after its scheduled regular season finale at Reinhardt (Ga.) was cancelled. “I’m so proud of all of them.”
The championship game also marked the final appearance in a Rio uniform for seniors Luiz Filho (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Kimathi Kaumbutho (Nairobi, Kenya) and Edward Mussi (Saline, MI).
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.