By Chad Waller | Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (bracket) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the pairings for the NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Opening Round. There are 16 Opening Round matches, which will be contested at on-campus facilities on Nov. 17. Those winners will meet up in the 54th annual national championship final site held at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex in Montgomery, Ala., from Nov. 26 - Dec. 1.
To track all of the scores and information in the Opening Round, click here.
No. 1 seed and defending national champion Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) will host first-time qualifier Point Park (Pa.) on Saturday. The Blue Raiders, who last held the No. 1 seed during their 2009 national championship title run, is hosting their fifth-straight Opening Round match. Since the Opening Round format began in 2008, Lindsey Wilson is 3-1-0 in this round and holds a 15-2 scoring edge.
Overall, there are seven repeat hosts from the 2011 National Championship Opening Round. The Opening Round hosts enjoyed success to the tune of a 10-4-1 combined record last year.
Fourteen teams are repeat performers from last year, while eight programs will be competing in their first-ever championship. To addition to the eight rookies, Aquinas (Mich.), Ashford (Iowa), Concordia (Ore.), Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.), Kansas Wesleyan, Missouri Valley, Oklahoma Wesleyan, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) and Tennessee Wesleyan are all looking for win No. 1 as they all have appeared in at least one previous event.
The Southern States Athletic Conference lists the most qualifiers out of any conference/independent/unaffiliated group in the national championship: Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), Belhaven (Miss.), Mobile (Ala.) and Southern Poly (Ga.). The Heart of America Athletic Conference places Benedictine (Kan.), MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and Missouri Valley in the postseason.
Lindsey Wilson leads all qualifiers with 20 championship visits and 45 wins. The victories are the most all-time in the NAIA and the 20 trips is tied for second in history. Right behind the Blue Raiders for the most active appearances, Mobile will look to improve upon its 21-14-2 record in its 16th event. Rio Grande (Ohio) (12) and Auburn Montgomery (10) are the other two with double-digit trips.
The 32 teams are comprised of 24 automatic qualifiers awarded to conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournament and regular-season champions. The rest of the field is made up of eight at-large teams, selected by the final NAIA Men's Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI) announced on Nov. 11.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of 12 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all matches of the 2012 Men's Soccer National Championship final site in Montgomery, Ala. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament pass is available for $29.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.