16 Teams Battle for the 53rd Annual NAIA Soccer Trophy
Sunday Nov, 27 2011
Nov. 26, 2011 — Sixteen teams will take their crack at winning the 53rd annual trophy in the 2011 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship at the final site in Orange Beach, Ala. Since the tournament went to its current 16-team, single-elimination format in 1999, there have been nine different national champions. Defending national champion Hastings (Neb.) looks to become the seventh team in the history of the championship to repeat as titlists.
The event kicks off with Hastings matching up with Saint Xavier (Ill.) at noon CST on Nov. 28. That match is the start of Second Round action and part of four games in each of the first two days. The Quarterfinals are scheduled for Nov. 30, with the Semifinals on Dec. 2 and the title game set for 7 p.m. on Dec. 3.
St. Xavier is one of four unseeded teams to punch its ticket to Orange Beach. These four teams (St. Xavier, Huston-Tillotson (Texas), Great Falls (Mont.) and Science & Arts (Okla.)) have played in just a combined six national championships. Huston-Tillotson, who will take on No. 3 Baker (Kan.) at 5 p.m. on Monday, is taking part in its first event.
Hastings (21-1-0) earns the No. 1 seed for the first time in school history. Since 1999, there have been only three top seeds to win the national title – Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) in 2001 and 2009; Azusa Pacific (Calif.) in 2007. The previous four national champions will be taking to the field at the Orange Beach Sportsplex. Overall, seven of this year’s teams hold trophies: Lindsey Wilson (8), Azusa Pacific (1), Belhaven (Miss.) (1), Bethel (Tenn.) (1), Hastings (1), Mobile (Ala.) (1) and Rio Grande (Ohio).
No. 2 seed Lindsey Wilson will tangle with No. 15 Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) on Nov. 28 at 2:30 p.m. The Blue Raiders check into the match with the NAIA’s longest active winning streak with a 19-0-0 mark. They are playing in their 19th all-time championship and 18th-straight, which is the third most all-time appearances. With a 41-10-4 championship record, Lindsey Wilson is tied with former member Quincy (Ill.) for the most victories in postseason play.
Mobile, who earned a bye in the Opening Round, is one of four teams out of the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) to enjoy a berth at the final site. The Rams (16-2-1) will face fellow SSAC member, William Carey (Miss.), at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. The teams played to a 1-1 draw back on Oct. 18. Mobile is 21-13-2 all-time in the national championship in 13 previous trips, which are the second-most appearances among the 16-team field.
Paired up with No. 12 Belhaven at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, No. 5 Rio Grande is playing in its 11th event. The RedStorm (18-2-0) have advanced to the Semifinals in two of the past three seasons.
Tickets are available at the gate for $20 (all-tournament) or day passes at $8 (adults) and $3 (children).
NeuLion is the NAIA’s Digital Media Partner and official video-streaming company of 10 select NAIA National Championship events. All 15 matches from Orange Beach will be available via live video stream for $29.95 and any single day can be purchased for $9.95. For more information, go to www.WatchNAIA.com.