KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The University of Rio Grande is ranked fifth in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll released Wednesday morning by the national office.
The RedStorm, who finished 20-1 last season after a loss to Missouri Valley in the quarterfinal round of the national tournament, tallied 439 points in the balloting.
Head coach Scott Morrissey’s squad, which is making its 119th consecutive appearance in the poll, returns three players who garnered All-American honors last season – sophomore forward Nicolas Cam Orellana (Santiago, Chile), senior defender James Williamson (San Jose, Costa Rica) and senior goal keeper Richard Dearle (Castle Donington, England).
Rio Grande opens its 2019 schedule on Saturday when it hosts Saint Xavier (Ill.) University for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Evan E. Davis Field.
Following their first national championship in program history, Central Methodist (Mo.) claimed the No. 1 spot in the poll. The Eagles, who finished 22-2-2 last fall, received all 18 first-place votes and 498 points from a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, Association of Independent Institutions and Unaffiliated Groups.
Missouri Valley, last season’s national runner-up, was second with 482 points, while William Carey (Miss.) and Madonna (Mich.) were in front of Rio Grande with 464 points and 445 points, respectively.
There were two newcomers who did not appear in last year’s final post-season poll – No. 23 Science & Arts (Okla.) and No. 25 Southeastern (Fla.). Mid-America Christian (Okla.) and Marymount California were the schools who fell from the final poll of 2018.
Rio’s 119 consecutive appearances in the poll ranks second behind the 129 of Lindsey Wilson College.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.