KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande’s month-long run as the nation’s top-ranked NAIA men’s soccer team is over.
Following last Saturday’s 2-2 tie at Bryan (Tenn.) College, the RedStorm slipped to No. 2 in the latest coaches’ poll released on Tuesday by the national office.
Defending national champion and Mid-South Conference rival Lindsey Wilson College, who Rio bumped from the top spot after an overtime win over the Blue Raiders on September 29, is back in the No. 1 spot.
Rio’s tie with Bryan, coupled with a Blue Raiders victory over then-No. 20 Bethel (Tenn.) moved veteran head coach Ray Wells’ squad up to the lead position with 589 points. Lindsey Wilson earned 18-of-21 first-place votes.
Rio Grande, which had its 13-match win streak snapped with Saturday’s draw, collected 572 total points and the remaining three first-place votes.
In the upcoming Mid-South Conference Tournament, Rio Grande holds the No. 1 seed, while the Blue Raiders are second. Both clubs could potentially clash in the tournament championship on Nov. 8.
Rio Grande hosts Shawnee State in the tourney’s opening round on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., at Evan E. Davis Field.
Science & Arts (Okla.) maintained its hold on No. 3 for the fourth consecutive week, while No. 4 Oklahoma Wesleyan moved up two spots and is in the top five for the first time this year. No. 5 Concordia (Calif.) also jumped two spots and is in the top 10 for a ninth straight week.
One week after its first Top 25 ranking in 2012, No. 18 St. Thomas (Fla.) is the biggest improvement within the poll with a four-spot spike. The Bobcats are owners of 10 victories in their last 11 outings to improve to 10-3-1 on the year. Conversely, Southern Poly (Ga.) fell the hardest, down five spots to No. 17. In their last four contests, the Hornets are 1-2-1.
The newcomers this week are all familiar with the Top 25 this year as they were ranked at least on one previous occasion. No. 21 Bryan (Tenn.), No. 24 SCAD Savannah (Ga.) and No. 25 Hastings (Neb.) jump back in the poll.
Thomas (Ga.) (No. 21), Milligan (Tenn.) (No. 23) and Biola (Calif.) (No. 24) were the teams that dropped out of the Top 25 this week.
The Southern States Athletic Conference leads all conferences/independents/unaffiliated groups with five teams in the Top 25: No. 8 Mobile (Ala.), No. 9 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.), No. 11 Southern Wesleyan (S.C.), No. 15 Belhaven (Miss.) and No. 17 Southern Poly. The Heart of America Athletic Conference placed three teams in the rankings: No. 9 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.), No. 12 Missouri Valley and No. 13 Benedictine (Kan.).
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conference/independents/unaffiliated groups. The 10th regular-season poll will be announced on Nov. 6.
The 32 qualifiers for the 2012 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship will be announced on Nov. 11 at 6 p.m. CDT and the pairings will be announced on Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. CDT.