By Chad Waller | Director of Communications & Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Bracket | Live Stats | Scoreboard) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Men's Soccer National Championship Opening Rounds will take place on Saturday with 16 on-campus matches. The 16 Opening Round champions will advance to the 54th annual NAIA National Championship presented by Carrabba's Italian Grill will take place at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex in Montgomery, Ala. Second round matches begin on Nov. 26, with the national championship final to be contested on Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. CST.
Since the Opening Round format began in 2008, the host schools have a combined record of 39-16-5 (.692). The 2011 hosts went 10-4-1 overall. Of those four losses, three of those same teams will again play host on Saturday: No. 10 Kansas Wesleyan, No. 13 Missouri Valley and No. 16 Concordia (Ore.). Overall, seven hosts are repeaters from last year's opening round.
Defending national champion and nine-time winner Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), is one of two men's soccer programs in NAIA history to serve as Opening Round hosts each year since the format started in 2008. The top-seeded Blue Raiders are 3-1-0 in the Opening Round. No. 4 Rio Grande (Ohio) is the other team to host each time. The RedStorm boast the most Opening Round victories as they are a perfect 4-0 and have out-scored their opponents 11-3.
Lindsey Wilson, who is trying to become the sixth all-time program in the 53-year history of men's soccer to repeat as national champions, hosts first-time qualifier Point Park (Pa.) at 4 p.m. CST. Rio Grande welcomes Aquinas (Mich.) at 6:30 p.m. EST. Both match ups are the first Opening Round meetings between the two programs.
No. 5 Science & Arts (Okla.) (13-0-4) and No. 9 Oklahoma Wesleyan (19-0-1) enter the championship as the only undefeated teams. Science & Arts will host Grand View (Iowa) at 7 p.m. CST. The Eagles boast the distinction of the longest active win streak, which is at 15-straight matches. The only non-win happened on Sept. 8 at MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) in a 1-1 draw. Oklahoma Wesleyan welcomes 2010 national champion Hastings (Neb.) at 1 p.m.
The only meeting of teams with previous postseason series history is Benedictine (Kan.) traveling to No. 14 Ashford (Iowa). In the 2009 Opening Round, the Ravens out-lasted Ashford, 1-0 in overtime.
Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), Embry-Riddle (Ariz.), Florida Memorial, Jamestown (N.D.), Our Lady of the Lake (Texas), Point Park, Rocky Mountain (Mont.) and Texas Wesleyan all punched their ticket of the first time. Spring Arbor (Mich.), who is making its second trip to the national championship and first since 1979, is snapping the longest drought of any 2012 qualifier.
Since 2000, the top seed has won three national titles, with Lindsey Wilson winning on two of those occasions (2001, 2009). Former member Azusa Pacific (Calif.) took home the hardware in 2007. Overall, five active qualifiers have won a national championship, Lindsey Wilson, Belhaven (Miss.) (1), Hastings (1), Mobile (Ala.) (1) and Rio Grande (1).
At 19-straight appearances, Lindsey Wilson is enjoying the longest active streak and holds the most all-time championship wins with 45. Rio Grande is second on that active list as the RedStorm will compete in their 12th-consecutive event. Mobile (16) and Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) (10) are the other two teams with 10-or-more appearances.
The Southern States Athletic Conference lists the most qualifiers out of any conference/independent/unaffiliated group in the national championship: Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), Belhaven, Mobile and Southern Poly (Ga.). The Heart of America Athletic Conference places a trio of schools in the postseason: Benedictine (Kan.), MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and Missouri Valley.
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.
For more information on the 2012 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship, click here.
For more information in regards to Montgomery, Ala., click here.