URG grabs top spot in NAIA men’s soccer poll
by Randy Payton Special to OVP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande of the Mid-South Conference sits atop the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 poll, the national office announced Tuesday.
The RedStorm, who hold an 11-1-2 mark on the season, accumulated 20 first-place votes and 591 points to earn their 40th all-time No. 1 ranking and their 57th consecutive top 10 nod.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups.
Rio Grande, which was last ranked No. 1 on Oct. 23, 2012, becomes the fifth NAIA program to earn the No. 1 position this season, tying an NAIA record (2000, 2006). Hastings (Neb.), Mobile (Ala.), Belhaven (Miss.) and Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) have also been ranked No. 1 this season.
Grand View (Iowa), which joined the top five last week and has been ranked in every regular-season poll, compiled 557 points en route to the No. 2 ranking. The No. 2 position is the highest rating for Grand View, dating back to 2000. The 13-2-0 Vikings currently sit atop the Midwest Collegiate Conference (5-0-0).
Lindsey Wilson accrued 544 points, including the final first-place vote, earning the No. 3 position. The 10-2-2 Blue Raiders fell from the top position after suffering their second loss of the season at the hands of NCAA Division II Flagler (Fla.) on Oct. 16. Lindsey Wilson’s only other loss came in the first match of 2013 against Spring Arbor (Mich.) on Aug. 22. Despite having two losses on its record, Lindsey Wilson (6-0-1) holds a narrow lead on current No. 1 Rio Grande (6-0-2) in the Mid-South Conference.
No. 4 Benedictine (Kan.) and No. 5 Ashford (Iowa) round out the top five with 533 and 503 points, respectively. The 10-2-1 Ravens sit atop the Heart of America Athletic Conference (4-0-1) and rejoin the top five for the first time since Poll No. 2. After a one-week hiatus, following the team’s third loss of the season to Grand View on Oct. 9, the 10-3-1 Saints return to the top five.
This is the first poll in which no Southern States Athletic Conference team ranks among the top five since the final regular-season poll of 2012. No. 7 Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) is the highest ranked team from the conference.
Within the poll, No. 17 Martin Methodist (Tenn.) made the largest jump, moving up six spots, while Belhaven fell seven spots, landing at No. 9. The shifts come after Martin Methodist downed the Blazers 1-0, on a Juan Madrigal goal with 46 seconds remaining in double overtime, on Oct. 19.
There were a season-high seven newcomers to the Top 25: No. 18 San Diego Christian (Calif.), No. 19 Indiana Wesleyan, No. 21 Bryan (Tenn.), No. 23 Davenport (Mich.), No. 24 Thomas (Ga.), No. 25 St. Thomas (Texas) and No. 25 Rocky Mountain (Mont.). This is the first Top 25 appearance for both San Diego Christian and St. Thomas, dating back to 2000, and just the second for Davenport, which was previously ranked on Sept. 9, 2008. The rest of the newcomers had been ranked at some point earlier this season.
Columbia (Mo.), Campbellsville (Ky.), Our Lady of the Lake (Texas), Texas at Brownsville, Texas Wesleyan and Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) fell out of the Top 25. Columbia had been ranked in 34-straight polls dating back to Nov. 14, 2010. Hannibal-LaGrange had previously been ranked in every poll of 2013.
The Southern States Athletic Conference shares the lead among all conferences/independents/unaffiliated groupings with four teams among the Top 25: Auburn Montgomery, Belhaven, No. 14 William Carey (Miss.) and Martin Methodist. The Heart of America Athletic Conference also placed four teams among the Top 25: Benedictine, No. 6 Missouri Valley, No. 15 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and No. 16 Baker (Kan.).
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