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Belhaven Triumphs in NAIA Game of the Week

September 09, 2013
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By: Belhaven (Miss.) Sports Information

MARION, Ind. – The Belhaven (Miss.) men's soccer team rallied for arguably its biggest win of the season so far, defeating 9th ranked University of Rio Grande (Ohio) 2-1 Saturday afternoon in the Indiana Wesleyan University Invitational. On the heels of a tough loss Friday to Indiana Wesleyan, the top ranked Blazers fought back for a crucial non-conference victory against another outstanding NAIA team.

The Blazers found themselves in an early hole when Rio Grande grabbed a quick 1-0 edge. Orlando Zapata curved the ball past goalie Carl Blundell in the 14th minute for the first goal of the match. Maximiliano Viera provided the assist by threading the ball through the defense and onto the waiting foot of Zapata.

For the second consecutive night, Belhaven (2-2-1) had to find a way to rally and this time the offense was able to execute. The Blazers found their traction in the second half and equalized the match in the 55th minute. Jermaine Metz stepped up and blasted his first goal of the season past the outstretched arms of Red Storm goalie Jon Dodson. Victory Lawrence guided the pass to Metz on perfect stride who in turn tucked the ball into the corner of the goal to tie the game 1-1.

On the boost of momentum provided by Metz, the defense stymied Rio Grande's offense the rest of the way. In fact, the Red Storm didn't force Blundell to make a save during the remaining 45 minutes.

Eventually Belhaven enjoyed the game winning strike on a shot by Eduardo Cruz in the 82nd minute. With overtime looking more likely by the second, Cruz had other plans with his first goal of the season. He was aided by Will Monsour who was credited with the assist to give the Blazers a 2-1 win. The victory snapped a two game losing streak.

"This weekend's tournament was a fantastic experience for our guys," Belhaven Head Coach Brian McMahon said. "Yesterday's game had thousands of fans at our IWU game and today's matchup against #9 Rio Grande was nationally televised. This is our fifth game in a row against a top 25 team from last year and I have really been challenging our guys to play to a standard realizing we get teams best and I thought we did a good job of that."

Rio Grande held a slight edge in shots at 9-8, but the second half belonged to Belhaven with a 7-4 advantage in the final 45 minutes. Corner kicks went Belhaven's way 3-1.

Cruz had a game high three shots on goal and the game winning kick off the bench to pace the Blazers offensive attack. Blundell earned the win in net running his record to 2-2-1. He made two saves on the afternoon, both coming in the first half.

Zapata matched Cruz with three shots and a goal of his own for Rio Grande. Dodson made three saves for the Red Storm, but allowed both Belhaven goals en route to the loss in net.

Belhaven returns home on Wednesday for another non-conference showdown against Texas College. The kickoff is slated for 7:00 PM.