KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Bracket | Live Stats | Schedule) The 30th annual NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship, presented by the Sports Medicine Center at Orthopedic Group, P.C., kicks off Opening Round action Saturday at 15 campus sites. The 31-team field – highlighted by defending national champion Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) – features 17 teams that qualified for last year’s national championship, including 12 programs that reached the final site in Orange Beach, Ala., a season ago.
Saturday’s 15 winners, as well as host school Mobile (Ala.), will advance to the national championship final site from Dec. 2 – 7. Orange Beach and the Orange Beach Sportsplex are hosting the event for the second-straight season. For more information on the 2013 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship Opening Round and final site, click here.
This year’s 31 teams include 24 automatic qualifiers – awarded to conference, independent and unaffiliated group tournament and regular-season champions – six at-large bids and one host berth. The six at-large bids were determined using the final official NAIA Women’s Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI).
Last season, Lindsey Wilson claimed its third all-time national crown with a 3-2 victory over Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) to become the sixth program in NAIA women’s soccer history to win three-or-more titles. The Blue Raiders, who enter the event with an 18-3-0 record after winning the Mid-South Conference Tournament title, are making their 15th-straight appearance and are the No. 1 seed for the sixth time since seeding began in 2000. Lindsey Wilson hosts Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament champion Asbury (Ky.) in Columbia, Ky., at 12 p.m. CST on Saturday.
Concordia (Ore.), Lindsey Wilson and Martin Methodist (Tenn.) have hosted every Opening Round since the format began in 2008. Concordia and Lindsey Wilson are unbeaten (5-0-0) all-time in the Opening Round, while Martin Methodist is 4-1-0 after losing to then-championship newcomer Cumberland (Tenn.), 1-0, in 2012.
Other teams that will be hosting on Saturday are: Concordia (Calif.), Cumberland (Tenn.), Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Northwood (Fla.), Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), Spring Arbor (Mich.), St. Ambrose (Iowa), St. Thomas (Fla.), The Master’s (Calif.), Vanguard (Calif.), Westmont (Calif.) and William Carey (Miss.).
No. 2 seed Westmont enters the national championship as the most decorated among the qualifiers with 16 appearances and five national crowns. The Warriors are also tied atop the field with Lindsey Wilson in all-time victories with 28.
In addition to Westmont, Lindsey Wilson (3), Martin Methodist (2) and Mobile (1) are the only other qualifiers with at least one national title.
Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) regular-season and tournament champion Concordia (Calif.), who enters the championship with a 16-0-3 record, in the NAIA’s only remaining unbeaten team. The Eagles are making their second all-time appearance in the national championship and own a 0-0-1 record in the event after tying Graceland (Iowa), 0-0, in 2011. Graceland advanced to the final site with a 5-4 advantage in penalty kicks.
Overall, 13 qualifiers are vying for their first ever win at the national championship – Asbury, Bellevue (Neb.), Columbia, Concordia, Davenport (Mich.), John Brown (Ark.), Our Lady of the Lake, Ottawa (Kan.), Reinhardt (Ga.), St. Ambrose, Trinity International (Ill.), Westminster (Utah) and William Jessup (Calif.).
Arguably, two of the most surprising teams in this year’s field are Graceland (Iowa) and Trinity International. The Yellowjackets – winners of only one of their last eight matches to close the regular-season – claimed the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament crown as the sixth seeded team in the event, knocking off the league’s top three teams en route to the title.
Similarly, Trinity International was the No. 5 seed in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Tournament, but knocked off fourth-seed Judson (Ill.), 2-0, and regular-season champion Robert Morris (Ill.), 1-0, in overtime before tying defending national runner-up Olivet Nazarene, 0-0, in the finals. The Trojans would claim an automatic berth with a 3-2 edge in penalty kicks.
Of the 15 matches on Saturday, only one pits two teams with previous national championship series history when No. 11 Spring Arbor (Mich.) hosts Robert Morris (Ill.) at 6 p.m. EST. Robert Morris won the two sides only previous meeting 3-1 in the 2010 Opening Round.
Championship final site host Mobile, the only team with an Opening Round bye, will face the winner of John Brown and No. 8 Concordia (Calif.) on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The GSAC boasts the most teams in the 2013 field. Representing the conference is Concordia (Calif.), The Master’s (Calif.), Vanguard (Calif.) and Westmont. The Sun Conference, Southern States Athletic Conference and CCAC are next with three representatives each.
NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company, will be broadcasting all final site games of the 2013 Women’s Soccer National Championship in Orange Beach, 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.
2013 NAIA Women’s Soccer Opening Round Pairings (Full Championship Schedule)
(All times local)
- Asbury (Ky.) (11-8-0) at Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (18-3-0), 12 p.m.
- Graceland (Iowa) (13-5-3) at Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) (16-3-2), 1 p.m.
- John Brown (Ark.) (14-3-3) at Concordia (Calif.) (16-0-3), 1 p.m.
- Reinhardt (Ga.) (15-3-2) at Embry-Riddle (Fla.) (14-4-1), 5 p.m.
- Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) (16-2-1) at William Carey (Miss.) (17-4-0), 1 p.m.
- Hastings (Neb.) (16-4-1) at St. Thomas (Fla.) (16-1-1), 1 p.m.
- William Jessup (Calif.) (14-6-0) at Concordia (Ore.) (17-1-1), 1 p.m.
- Bellevue (Neb.) (10-7-3) at Northwood (Fla.) (14-1-1), 2 p.m.
- Cal State San Marcos (11-5-1) at The Master’s (Calif.) (15-5-0), 1 p.m.
- Robert Morris (Ill.) (13-4-1) at Spring Arbor (Mich.) (18-2-1), 6 p.m.
- Columbia (Mo.) (16-2-1) at Vanguard (Calif.) (15-4-0), 1:30 p.m.
- Davenport (Mich.) (17-2-1) at St. Ambrose (Iowa) (14-4-1), 1 p.m.
- Ottawa (Kan.) (13-6-2) at Cumberland (Tenn.) (15-3-1), 1 p.m.
- Trinity International (Ill.) (13-5-3) at Martin Methodist (Tenn.) (15-5-1), 12 p.m.
- Westminster (Utah) (11-7-2) at Westmont (Calif.) (15-1-3), 1 p.m.