RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Defense has played a major role in the current unbeaten streak enjoyed by the University of Rio Grande women’s soccer team.
Such was the case for the RedStorm again in Wednesday afternoon’s River States Conference Tournament semifinal against Indiana University East.
Head coach Tony Daniels’ team limited the visiting Red Wolves to just three shots on goal and made a first half marker stand up in a 1-0 victory at Evan E. Davis Field.
Rio Grande, the tourney’s No. 2 seed, ran its unbeaten streak to 12 and won for a seventh consecutive outing, improving to 11-5-2 in the process.
The RedStorm also punched their ticket to Saturday’s tournament championship match where they’ll face top-seeded Ohio Valley University — a 3-0 winner over Point Park University in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Third-seeded IU East, which also dropped a 1-0 decision at home to Rio during regular season play, finished 11-7-2 with the loss.
The Red Wolves managed just eight shots altogether in the loss, while Rio tallied 24 total shots and 10 shots on frame.
The RedStorm also were responsible for six of the seven corner kick opportunities in the match.
Two of East’s three shots on goal came after halftime — the last of which with 5:38 left to play — once Rio Grande had already grabbed the lead.
The game’s lone score came with 14:53 left before halftime when Rio senior Chase Davis (Huntington, WV) played a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box and fired a shot with her left foot past a diving IU East net-minder Gabby Mitchum.
Davis’ goal was her team-leading eighth marker of the season.
Sophomore keeper Morgen Nutter (Ashville, OH) had three saves in the clean sheet effort for the RedStorm.
Mitchum had seven saves for IU East before leaving with 21:41 left to play after suffering a shoulder injury.
Ashlynn Black finished in net for the Red Wolves and stopped two shots.
Saturday’s championship match is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Vienna, W.Va. The Fighting Scots dealt Rio its last loss, a 3-2 overtime decision on Sept. 18.
A win on Saturday would give Rio Grande just its second all-time appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.