KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande is ranked ninth in the 2013 NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 poll announced Tuesday.
The RedStorm received 379 points in the balloting of 19 head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups.
Head coach Scott Morrissey’s team, which finished the 2012 season at 16-3-1 and ranked ninth after a season-ending loss to Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) in the second round of the national tournament, earned its 50th consecutive Top 10 ranking, dating back to the 2009 Preseason Top 25 poll. Rio is also making its 64th straight appearance in the poll.
However, the No. 9 ranking marks just the fourth time that the RedStorm has been ranked outside of the top five in the preseason poll.
Rio Grande, last year’s Mid-South Conference regular season champion, opens its regular season schedule on Saturday night when St. Xavier (Ill.) University visits Evan E. Davis Field for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Defending national champion Belhaven (Miss.) remains atop the poll after receiving all 19 first-place votes and 529 total points. The consecutive No. 1 rankings are a first for the Blazers, who will tangle with Rio Grande on September 7 in the IWU Classic hosted by Indiana Wesleyan.
Mobile (Ala.), the Southern States Athletic Conference foe whom Belhaven defeated 2-0 in the 2012 National Championship, accumulated 510 total points to earn the No. 2 ranking.
Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), who compiled an NAIA-best 22-2 record a year ago, received 496 points en route to the No. 3 position. The Blue Raiders fell 1-0 to Belhaven in the 2012 National Championship semifinals.
MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) round out the top five with 477 and 461 points, respectively.
The Southern States Athletic Conference claimed three of the top five positions in the preseason poll and leads all conferences/independents/unaffiliated groupings with five teams in the Top 25 - Belhaven, Mobile, Auburn Montgomery, No. 8 Southern Poly (Ga.) and No. 22 Southern Wesleyan (S.C.).
The Heart of America Athletic Conference, with three, and the American Midwest Conference, Mid-South Conference, Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and the unaffiliated grouping of Frontier/A.I.I./North Star, with two each, also placed multiple teams in the Preseason Top 25.
The first regular-season Top 25 Poll will be announced Sept. 10.