BECKLEY, W.Va. — Closely-contested matchups have become the norm in recent years for the University of Rio Grande and West Virginia University-Tech.
Thursday night’s latest meeting between the RedStorm and the Golden Bears proved to be no different.
Fletcher Caponecchia’s goal with 7:31 remaining in the second overtime gave Tech a 1-0 win over Rio Grande in River States Conference men’s soccer action at the YMCA/Paul Cline Soccer Complex.
The Golden Bears, ranked No. 18 in the latest NAIA coaches’ poll, improved to 12-0-1 overall and 6-0 in league play.
The RedStorm, ranked No. 10 nationally, slipped to 11-3 overall and 5-1 inside the conference with the loss – its second in as many overtime outings this season.
Thursday’s game marked the third time in the last four meetings and the fourth time in the last seven showdowns between the two programs which ventured into extra time.
Rio’s three losses also represent the most setbacks in a single season since the 2013 squad finished 16-3-3.
Caponecchia’s game-winning marker came off a touch from teammate Jason Constable after a mad scramble in front of the net, capping the Golden Bears’ only real scoring opportunity in either extra session.
The RedStorm had two prime scoring chances within 45 seconds of each other in the opening moments of the first overtime period, but a pair of shots by senior Omar Walcott (Kingston, Jamaica) were turned away.
Rio also had a penalty kick opportunity with 16:40 remaining in regulation, but sophomore Nicolas Cam Orellana (Santiago, Chile) was stopped by Tech net-minder Jorge Martinez.
The RedStorm was outshot 15-7 overall and 7-5 in shots on frame.
Martinez stopped four shots in a route-going performance for the Golden Bears, who improved to 3-0-1 in overtime matches this year.
Senior Richard Dearle (Castle Donington, England) had six saves in a losing cause for Rio Grande.
The RedStorm returns to action next Thursday when it opens a two-game homestand against Carlow University.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.