KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Bracket) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the opening round pairings and tournament bracket for the 2012 NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship. There will be 30 teams playing at 15 campus sites on Nov. 17. The 15 winners of the National Championship Opening Round matches, as well as host Mobile (Ala.), will advance to the 29th annual national championship final site from Nov. 26 - Dec. 1 in Orange Beach, Ala.
Top seed and four-time defending national champion Lee (Tenn.) will host first-time qualifier Montreat (N.C.). The Lady Flames, who enter the tournament riding a 20-match championship win streak dating back to 2008, own the third-most all-time tournament wins (26) and are 4-0-0 in Opening Round matches. Montreat, who qualified by winning the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament, is 1-of-8 programs appearing in their first-ever national championship. Lee and Montreat have six prior meetings - all regular season - on the books with the Lady Flames holding a 5-1-0 advantage in the series.
Twenty-four teams earned an automatic berth into the field of 31 by winning their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournament or regular season. Championship newcomer Faulkner (Ala.) also received an automatic spot as the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament runner-up. The Eagles will travel to seventh-seeded Embry-Riddle (Fla.).
The six at-large teams were selected based on the final official NAIA Women's Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI). The MRPI consists of the team's modified winning percentage, their opponents' winning percentage and the cumulative ratings points from the NAIA Women's Soccer Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Each of the three values has a weighted percentage calculated in the MRPI. The MRPI modifies the value of home/away/neutral results and adds more value for games against opponents ranked in their respective national poll.
Three of the six at-large berths - No. 2 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), No. 13 William Carey (Miss.) and No. 14 Baker (Kan.) - will host an Opening Round. The Blue Raiders welcome Park (Mo.) to Columbia, Ky., while William Carey and Baker host Texas at Brownsville and Bellevue (Neb.), respectively.
Baker and Bellevue are the only two teams paired in the Opening Round that have played previously in the national championship. The two sides' lone meeting came in the Opening Round of the 2011 national championship. The Wildcats claimed a 2-1 victory in that contest.
Westmont (Calif.), Concordia (Ore.) and Lindsey Wilson boast 10-or-more national championship appearances. The Warriors lead the trio with 15, while Lindsey Wilson is second with 14 trips and Concordia third with12.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video-streaming company of 12 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all final site games of the 2012 Women's Soccer National Championship. 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.
For more information on the 2012 NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship, click here.
For 2012 NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship schedule and score information, click here.