By Nikki Sherrill, Communications & Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defending national champions Rio Grande (Ohio) begins the 2016 season in the top spot in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The RedStorm spent the entire 2015 season ranked No. 1, except in preseason, and ended their campaign with an overtime national championship victory over MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), 1-0. Rio Grande has now been ranked No. 1 for 56 weeks in program history. The RedStorm earned 18 first place votes and 498 total points to top the rankings.
Top 25 Highlights:
- The RedStorm (Ohio) bring back three NAIA All-Americans from last season, 2015 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Player of the Year, William Paulino, who finished the year with 19 goals in 23 games played. including goalkeeper Benjamin Martinez who was in goal for 24 games.
- Rio Grande also brings back Benjamin Martinez in goal who played in 24 games last season and was a First Team All-American. Joao Paulo Antonio, a sophomore midfielder, was also named a Second Team All-American.
- The RedStorm ranked No. 1 in 2015 in shots per game with 24.13, and No. 1 in total shutouts with 14.
- National runner-up, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) comes in at the No. 2 spot in the preseason poll after receiving 482 points. After an 18-6-1 record last season, MidAmerica bring back one NAIA Honorable Mention All-American in Eduardo Heringer who contributed five goals to the Pioneers last season. MidAmerica’s leading goal scorer, Tanner Hunjak, also returns for his junior season. MidAmerica Nazarene ended 2015 with an 18-6-1 overall record.
- Looking at the rest of the top five in the preseason poll, there was no movement from the 2015 postseason poll. The No. 3 spot stays with Missouri Valley, No. 4 goes to Lindenwood-Belleview (Ill.) and coming in at No. 5 is Davenport (Mich.), the 2014 national champions.
- The preseason poll almost mirrors the postseason poll from 2015, with Oklahoma Wesleyan making the biggest movement in the rankings from No. 8 to No. 6. Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), Corban (Ore.) and Baker (Kan.) each moved up one spot, while Biola (Calif.), Marymount (Calif.) and Lyon (Ark.) moved backwards one spot from their previous ranking.
- There are no newcomers to the Top 25 Poll
- Sixteen of the 19 conferences, Association of Independent Institutions (AII) and unaffiliated group were represented this week. The Heart of America Athletic Conference and the American Midwest Conference tied at three teams for the most conference representation.
For the complete men’s soccer ratings calendar, click here.
NOTES:(All information dates back to 2000)
- Rio Grande (Ohio) now has been ranked a record 57 times at No. 1
- Rio Grande is trying to become the first time to be ranked preseason No. 1 and win the national championship in the same season since Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) did it in 2001
- Last season, there were 44 different teams to be ranked at least once – eight teams appeared on each poll last season, including the preseason poll
- Twenty-one different teams have been ranked No. 1 at some point in program history for the NAIA
- Lindsey Wilson is the longest consecutively-ranked active school at 106-straight polls, dating back to the first installment of the 2007 Top 25 Poll (Sept. 5) and Rio Grande is next in line with 89-consecutive rankings, followed by Missouri Valley at 56
2016 NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Aug. 16)
|RANK||LAST WEEK^||SCHOOL (1st PLACE VOTES)||2015 RECORD||FINAL POINTS|
|1||1||Rio Grande (Ohio) (18)||23-1||498|
|2||2||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||18-6-1||482|
|8||7||Rocky Mountain (Mont.)||17-3-4||397|
|16||16||Science & Arts (Okla.)||19-3||262|
|23||24||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||14-5-2||132|
Others Receiving Votes: WVU Tech 95; Thomas (Ga.) 69; Bethel (Tenn.) 54; Bryan (Tenn.) 35; The Master's (Calif.) 28; Georgia Gwinnett 17; Grand View (Iowa) 12; Great Falls (Mont.) 8; Mobile (Ala.) 5; Grace (Ind.) 4; St. Thomas (Fla.) 3; Jamestown (N.D.) 3
^ 2015 Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll announced on Dec. 9, 2015