Rio men’s soccer still No. 1

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Make it four straight.

For the fourth consecutive week, the University of Rio Grande men’s soccer team is a unanimous choice for the top spot in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. The latest list was released late Tuesday by the NAIA national office.

The RedStorm garnered 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.

Head coach Scott Morrissey’s squad, which has been idle since wrapping up the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular season title with a win at Brescia University on October 24, is ranked No. 1 in the poll for the 54th time since 2000 – more than any other NAIA program.

The RedStorm (16-1 overall, 6-0 KIAC) has been ranked No. 1 in 13 of the past 15 polls going back to the 2014 campaign and is second nationally with 96 consecutive appearances in the Top 25. Only No. 20 Lindsey Wilson has more consecutive appearances with 103. The eight-straight No. 1 rankings is the most in-a-row since Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) accomplished a 10-game streak that spanned the end of the 2011 season into the 2012 campaign.

Rio Grande will return to action on Thursday night when it hosts Asbury University in the semifinal round of the KIAC Tournament.

Oklahoma Wesleyan (512 pts.) is in second place for the fourth straight week, while Baker, Kan. (493 pts.) moved up one spot to third. Davenport, Mich. (469 pts.) and Missouri Valley (464 pts.) round out the top five.

Thanks to a nine-match win streak, No. 20 Roosevelt (Ill.) boasts the best improvement in the poll with a three-spot hike. With a 14-3-2 mark, the Lakers have already earned an automatic berth – their first in history – to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round.

No. 24 The Master’s (Calif.) and No. 25 WVU Tech are this week’s newcomers. Both clubs were ranked earlier this year. Thomas (Ga.) and Mobile (Ala.) were the two schools who slipped out of the Top 25.

Fifteen of the 19 conferences, Association of Independent Institutions (AII) and unaffiliated group were represented this week. The Golden State Athletic Conference, Heart of America Athletic Conference and Mid-South Conference field the most representatives in the Top 25 with three each.

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

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing