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MEN'S SOCCER: Raiders' title hopes dashed

IRVINE, Calif. — As it has done in all four seasons of existence, the Southern Oregon men’s soccer team took another step forward in 2018.

But on Monday afternoon in the second round of the NAIA national championships, No. 4-seeded Rio Grande (Ohio) stopped the No. 13 Raiders from going any further at OC Great Park Soccer Stadium.

Nicolas Cam Orellana, a freshman forward from Santiago, Chile, struck 97 seconds into the match and again in the 55th minute, sending Rio Grande to Wednesday’s quarterfinal round with his 22nd and 23rd goals of the season in a 2-0 victory.

The Red Storm, which is three years removed from its last national title and was No. 1 in the final NAIA Top 25 coaches’ poll, improved to 20-0.

The Raiders (17-3-3), making their first appearance at the national tournament’s final site, were unbeaten in 20 consecutive matches when the day started. During that streak, they’d trailed for a total of 13 minutes.

The early disadvantage left them short on opportunities against a team with an NAIA-high 17 shutouts.

Carlos Magana’s shot on goal in the 66th minute was SOU’s only one of the day.

“I am extremely proud of our players and the determination and professionalism they’ve shown all year,” SOU head coach Davie Carmichael said. “Rio punished our mistakes today and really showed their quality at key moments. We are disappointed but we’re dedicated to returning stronger and learning from this experience.”

Orellana, who ranks fourth in the NAIA in total goals, got his first opportunity when Harry Reilly chased down a long pass and crossed it from the right corner.

Reilly got his 18th assist of the season as Orellana redirected the pass with a header poked just inside the right post.

His skill was on display with the next goal, which Eduardo Zurita set up with a pass into the box. From the right side, Orellana waited patiently for momentum to take SOU’s Renee Resendez out of the picture, faked one kick and altered the angle of the next with a chip shot into the lower left pocket.

The Raiders hadn’t allowed multiple goals since their second match of the season, Aug. 25 at The Master’s (Calif.). They hadn’t been defeated by multiple goals since September 2017.

Rio Grande, however, has outscored its opponents 108-5 and is in the national tournament for the 18th consecutive season. It’ll face No. 5 Missouri Valley or No. 12 Spring Arbor (Mich.) in the next round.

The game was the last for six Raider seniors who helped the team to two national tournament appearances, two Cascade Conference regular-season championships and a CCC tourney title. Three of them — Ahmon Afenegus, Paul Matyas and Daniel Zamores — were around since the team’s inception.

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