Isberner joins pro ranks
RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Richard Isberner earned a great deal of notoriety during his seasons on the pitch for the University of Rio Grande men's soccer program.
Now, the 2013 URG graduate, is trying make a name for himself in the professional ranks.
Isberner is in his first season as a forward with the Wilmington (N.C.) Hammerheads of the United Soccer League.
A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Isberner has appeared in 11 of the club's first 20 outings this season. In 522 minutes of action, he has attempted eight shots, but has yet to find the net.
Finding the net was never a problem for Isberner during his playing days for the RedStorm.
A first team All-American and Mid-South Conference Player of the Year pick in each of the past two seasons, Isberner led Rio to its 12th straight national tournament appearance in 2012 with a team-high 22 goals, 13 assists and 57 points. He had an assist on the RedStorm's lone goal in a 2-1, double-overtime loss to Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) in the second round of the NAIA National Tournament.
Isberner finished his collegiate career with 88 goals and 60 assists for 236 points. He also tallied 11 game-winning goals, including five last season, and set a single-game school record for points during his junior season with 15 (five goals, five assists) in a 14-0 rout of St. Catharine College during the opening round of the Mid-South Conference Tournament.
Isberner is actually the second player with ties to Rio Grande playing for the Hammerheads.
Paul Nicholson, an All-American selection in 2008, is in his third season with the team. The midfielder has appeared in 17 games this season, scoring three times.
"Paul has been with the Hammerheads for three seasons now and is considered a veteran on the team alongside a few other players," Wilmington head coach David Irving said. "He's become well-known in the community amongst our local fan base. Both Paul and Richard have a physical presence on the field – Paul in the midfield and Richard up top."
Although Isberner and Nicholson never played together during their days at Rio Grande, Irving said their familiarity with each other – and with the level of play each participated in under their time with veteran Rio head coach Scott Morrissey – is beneficial.
"I believe people/fans become excited when two players share that same alma mater, especially if they shared the field during their attending years," Irving said. "While that's not the case with Richard and Paul, they do share a level of comfort on the field with one another that other players strive to do throughout the season with their fellow teammates when playing together for the first time. We also have a similar connection between our three players that played together during their time at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Who knows what may come of it?"
Wilmington, which carries a 6-10-4 record, plays its final regular season game Friday, July 26, when it hosts VSI Tampa Bay FC.
Isberner and Nicholson make up two-thirds of Rio Grande's current professional crop of players.
Ederson Lopes, who played at Rio Grande from 2007-10, is playing in Japan's D2 league for Thespa Kusatsu Gunma.
Lopes earned All-American honors at Rio three times, from 2008-10.