URG soccer still tops in NAIA poll

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande men’s soccer team maintained its hold on the top spot in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll announced Tuesday by the national office.

The RedStorm received 17 first-place votes and 498 points in the balloting of 18 head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups.

Davenport (Mich.) University, which grabbed the remaining first-place nod, remained second with 482 points.

Rio Grande, which takes a 13-1 record into Saturday night’s match at Asbury University, is ranked No. 1 in the poll for the 50th time since 2000 – more than any other NAIA program. The 13 wins by head coach Scott Morrissey’s club currently leads the country.

The RedStorm has been ranked No. 1 in nine of the past 11 polls dating back to last year and ranks second with 92 consecutive appearances in the Top 25. Only No. 11 Lindsey Wilson has more consecutive appearances with 98.

Oklahoma Wesleyan (462 pts.), Baker, Kan. (444 pts) and the University of Northwestern Ohio (431 pts.) round out the top five.

No. 15 Park (Mo.) improved eight spots for the best jump within the Top 25. The Pirates are yet to lose a match in 10 events this year (8-0-2). The ranking is the best since a No. 11 status on Oct. 6, 2009.

No. 23 Lyon (Ark.) dipped the farthest within the poll as the Scots dropped their first decision of the season, 1-0, at then-unranked Columbia (Mo.) on Oct. 10.

Three teams were newcomers to the poll this week – No. 21 Columbia, No. 24 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) and No. 25 West Virginia University-Tech. Columbia is ranked for the first time since Oct. 15, 2013 (No. 15); the RedHawks are mentioned for the first time since Sept. 30, 2014 (No. 12); and WVU Tech is ranked for the first time in school history.

Dalton State (Ga.), Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) and Georgia Gwinnett were the three teams which dropped off the list.

Sixteen of the 19 conferences, Association of Independent Institutions (AII) and unaffiliated group were represented this week. The American Midwest Conference and the Heart of America Athletic Conference field the most representatives in the Top 25 with three total. Five other leagues landed a pair of ranked programs.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing