URG soccer still unanimous No. 1 pick

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande men’s soccer team was a unanimous choice for the No. 1 spot in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll announced Tuesday by the national office.

The RedStorm received all 19 first-place votes and 529 points in the balloting of head coaches representing each of the NAIA’s conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups.

Rio Grande, which takes a 14-1 record into Wednesday night’s regular season home finale against No. 24 West Virginia University-Tech, is ranked No. 1 in the poll for the 51th time since 2000 – more than any other NAIA program. The 14 wins by head coach Scott Morrissey’s club are tied with two others schools – No. 12 Rocky Mountain (Mont.) and co-No. 15 Columbia (Mo.) – for the most in the country.

The RedStorm has been ranked No. 1 in 10 of the past 12 polls dating back to the 2014 campaign and ranks second with 93 consecutive appearances in the Top 25. Only No. 11 Lindsey Wilson has more consecutive appearances with 100.

Oklahoma Wesleyan (497 pts.), Davenport, Mich. (496 pts.), Baker, Kan. (483 pts.) and the University of Northwestern Ohio (469 pts.) round out the top five. Oklahoma Wesleyan and Davenport swapped positions, giving OWU its highest ranking ever.

Co-No. 15 Columbia had the biggest jump of the week – six spots – thanks to an 11-match winning streak, including two over Top 25 opponents.

With a 1-0 loss to then-unranked Southeastern (Fla.) on Oct. 17, No. 17 Thomas (Ga.) dropped 10 spots for the worst fall.

Three teams were newcomers to the poll this week – No. 18 Southeastern, No. 23 Biola (Calif.) and No. 25 Mobile (Ala.) are newcomers this week. With four-straight wins, the Fire are ranked for the first time in school history. Mobile was mentioned in the Top 25 earlier this year and Biola is in the poll for the first time since 2014.

Park (Mo.), The Master’s (Calif.) and Martin Methodist (Tenn.) 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 Heart of America Athletic Conference fields the most representatives in the Top 25 with three total – No. 4 Baker (Kan.), No. 7 Missouri Valley and No. 13 Mid-America Nazarene (Kan.). Seven 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