Rio Grande to host opening round bracket in NAIA tourney

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande will host one of 15 opening round brackets in the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship.

The opening round sites and matchups were announced Monday afternoon by the national office.

The tournament was expanded this season to include a third team at each opening round site, meaning an extra day of action.

Cardinal Stritch (Wis.), the regular season champion of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and Crossroads League tournament champion Huntington (Ind.) University will join the RedStorm in the Rio Grande Bracket.

Stritch (16-4) and Huntington (15-4-2) will play Friday, at noon, at Evan E. Davis Field, with the winner advancing to face Rio Grande (15-3-1) on Saturday at noon in the final.

The RedStorm, who are making their 19th all-time tournament appearance, earned an at-large selection and are seeded 9th overall.

The 15 NAIA Opening Round winners will join Westmont (Calif.) in Irvine, Calif. for NAIA National Championship Final Site play, beginning on December 2nd. The 16-team single-elimination event runs from Dec. 2-7 at the Orange Country Great Park Soccer Stadium.

The 2019 Opening Round field includes 27 automatic qualifiers, 18 at-large selections and the one host berth.

Automatic berths were given to teams that either won their respective conference tournament title, regular-season championship or finished runner-up during the regular season or at the conference tournament. The number of automatic qualifiers differ conference-to-conference based on conference size and postseason-eligible teams.

The at-large bids were determined by the Soccer National Selection Committee.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing

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

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