RIO GRANDE, Ohio - The University of Rio Grande will host Point Park University in the opening round of the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Tournament on Saturday at Evan E. Davis Field.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
The RedStorm (15-2-2), who were ranked climbed to second from sixth in the final NAIA coaches poll, is the No. 5 seed in the overall bracket.
Head coach Scott Morrissey’s club punched its ticket to the tourney with a 3-1 win over Cumberland (TN) University in the Mid-South Conference Tournament championship, last Friday, at Lindsey Wilson College’s Walter S. Reuling Stadium.
Point Park (12-6-1) advanced to the field of 32 as champions of the Unaffiliated KIAC/GCAC Tournament, posting a 2-1 win over Asbury.
Rio Grande is making its 13th NAIA national tournament appearance all-time - a figure that ranks second most among this year’s national qualifiers.
Point Park is making its second straight trip to the national tourney, marking the only two times in school history that the Pioneers have advanced this far. PPU is one of 19 teams who are returning from last year’s tourney field.
Rio Grande posted a 6-0 regular season win over the Pioneers on Sept. 29, scoring three times in each half. Rio Grande leads the country with 74 total goals and ranks second in the NAIA with 3.89 goals per game.
Sophomore forward Luiz Filho (Sao Paulo, Brazil) leads the country with 27 goals, three of which came in the earlier meeting between the two schools. Rio Grande leads the country with 74 total goals and ranks second in the NAIA with 3.89 goals per game.
Freshman forward Pau Rodriguez (Barcelona, Spain), who had two goals in the MSC championship win last Saturday, has 14 goals on the year and scored twice in the earlier meeting with Point Park.
Junior goalkeeper Jon Dodson (Tiffin, OH) has recorded 36 saves and four solo shutouts this season. He’s allowed only 13 goals and has tallied a save percentage of .735.
Point Park, which has won nine of its last 10 games, is led by senior forward Ousman Jaiteh with nine goals, while sophomore midfielder Jonty Loukes has a team-high 30 points (8 goals, 14 assists). The Pioneers’ balanced scoring attack features seven different players having at least six goals on the year.
Sophomore goalkeeper Derrik Whitten has turned away 72 shots on the season while allowing 27 goals in 18 games for a save percentage of .727.
Point Park ranks seventh in the NAIA in total goals with 66 and eighth nationally with 3.47 goals per game.
Saturday’s winner will advance to the NAIA National Championship final in Montgomery, Ala. to play either No. 12 Embry Riddle (Fla.) (13-3-0) or unranked George Gwinnett (15-4) in the round of 16 on December 3., where the final 16 teams will play it off to determine a national champion. The round of 16 opponent would be No. 12 Embry Riddle (Fla.) (13-3-0) or unranked George Gwinnett (15-4).
Rio Grande is 5-0 all-time against the Pioneers.