Updated Thu, Aug 22, 2013 4:47 pm
The men’s soccer team at Rio Grande is readying itself for another year, coming in with expectations as high as ever. The RedStorm come into the 2013 campaign after a successful year of 2012 that saw them go 16-3-1, win the regular season Mid-South Conference title while going undefeated, and jump out to a No. 1 ranking after a victory over then No. 1 Lindsey Wilson on Sept. 29. Rio would finish the year by earning a No. 9 ranking by the Soccer Coaches of NAIA in the postseason poll.
Coach Scott Morrissey returns for his 24th season at the helm of a Rio Grande program that can trace almost the entirety of its success back to him and the foundation he has laid for the program. In that time, Morrissey has guided the RedStorm to a stellar 370-109-25 record, which has included four trips to the NAIA Final Four, and a National Championship in 2003.
With as much success as Rio has enjoyed in recent years, it has managed to bring in a great deal of talent year in and year out. Last season was no different in yet another successful campaign, but the squad is without a few high-caliber athletes in 2013.
Unfortunately for the boys of Rio, they will have some big shoes to fill. Jack Marchanta, a third team All-American selection and fixture in the net for the Storm in each of the last two seasons, graduated at the end of the 2012 season. On top of that, Richard Isenberger, an NAIA First-Team All American, is gone. Isenberger was third in the NAIA in goals scored per game, netting 1.22 a match. Four others have graduated -- three of them after playing roles in the midfield. Oliver Hewitt-Fisher, a second team All-American, and Mike Burney, a third team All-American defender, graduated. Hewitt-Fisher’s services will still be of use to Rio on the coaching staff.
Returning for the RedStorm are five juniors and four sophomores on a roster laden with foreign-born talent. Places like Japan, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, England, El Salvador, and Uruguay will all be represented by players on Coach Morrissey’s roster this year.
Cesar Lopez, a staunch, tall defender, is back and will see time in the back on defense as well as in the midfield. Brazilian Forward Luis Filho is back for his sophomore season and will be expected to produce for Rio Grande. Senior Maximilliano Viera, the leading returning scorer from a year ago (10 goals) returns to anchor a midfield that has seen its fair share of solid players in recent years (with Coach Hewit-Fisher coming to mind). Several incoming international students come to Rio, including the likes of Willian Paulino and Romain Terzian.
Traveling to Evan E. Davis Field and Outward
Rio Grande will open the 2013 campaign with a home matchup that pits them with Saint Xavier University (13-6-1 in 2012), a strong team from the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The RedStorm get their shot at revenge on Sept. 21 when they visit the Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders (22-2), who knocked them out of the conference tournament a season ago.
A road trip to Campbellsville University (13-6-1) in Lebanon, Tennessee on the 5th of October waits in the thick of Mid-South Conference play.
Evan E. Davis field will then play host to Rockets Over Rio, an annual fireworks display that takes place after one game a year. That game this year will be against Shawnee State (4-14) on Oct. 12.