MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The University of Rio Grande has been selected as the top team in the 2021 River States Conference Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Poll released Monday night.
The RedStorm came out on top of the voting of the league’s 11 soccer head coaches with 97 total points and seven of the 11 first-place votes.
Rio Grande won the RSC Championship for the fifth time in the last seven years with its conference postseason tournament title in the spring of 2021. The championship was moved to the spring due to COVID-19.
The RedStorm amassed a record of 14-5 overall and 7-1 in the RSC, defeating Oakland City (Ind.) University in the finals to qualify for the NAIA national tournament. Rio Grande finished the year ranked No. 24 in the NAIA Top 25.
Rio Grande returns nearly all of its 2020-21 roster, including senior midfielder Ewan McLauchlan and sophomore forward Sebastian Borquez, both of whom were named to the 2020 NAIA Men’s Soccer All-America team. McLauchlan, who hails from Aroch, Scotland, was among those named to the third team, while Borquez (Santiago, Chile) was on the honorable mention list.
McLauchlan, a first team All-RSC selection, tied for second among team leaders with eight goals, tied for second in assists with six and was third on the squad with 22 points.
Borquez, who was named the RSC’s Player of the Year, led the team in goals (12) and points (30) and tied McLauchlan with six assists.
The RedStorm also return senior forward Samuel Pedersen (Aldershot, England), junior midfielder Charlie Chechlacz (Leicestershire, England), sophomore defenders Rodrigo Basso (Santiago, Chile) and Diego Montenegro (Santiago, Chile) and senior defender Silas Machado (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – all of whom were second team All-RSC selections last year.
One other notable returnee for veteran Rio Grande head coach Scott Morrissey is junior forward Nicolas Cam Orellana (Santiago, Chile), who missed all but four matches during the 2020-21 campaign after suffering a season-ending knee injury. He was an honorable mention NAIA All-American in 2019 after finishing 10th nationally with 22 goals, 11th nationally in game-winning goals (5) and 14th nationally in total points (48).
WVU-Tech was picked second in the RSC preseason poll after receiving 89 total points and three first-place votes. The Golden Bears were the RSC regular-season champions last season at 12-3 overall, 7-1 RSC.
The Golden Bears were “receiving votes” in the NAIA rankings at the end of 2020-21 and were ranked all year.
Ohio Valley (W.Va.) University is new to the RSC and the NAIA this year and was picked third in the poll with 79 points and the final first-place vote. The Fighting Scots were 11-0 last year and ended the year ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division II as Great Midwest Athletic Conference champions.
Point Park (Pa.) University took fourth in the poll with 75 points. The Pioneers are coming off a 7-7, 5-3 RSC campaign which included a trip to the RSC semifinals.
Indiana University East garnered 62 points for fifth place, and Oakland City got 59 points for sixth place as the final team predicted as a playoff qualifier.
Brescia (Ky.) University was next in seventh followed by another newcomer, St. Mary-of-the-Woods (Ind.), Midway (Ky.) University, Ohio Christian University and Carlow (Pa.) University.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.