RedStorm men’s soccer claims No. 1 ranking

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Rio Grande rests atop the first regular season edition of the 2015 NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll announced Tuesday night by the national office.

Head coach Scott Morrissey’s team jumped from the No. 5 spot in the preseason poll into the lead position after receiving 18 first-place votes and totaled 529 points in the balloting of 19 head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups.

The RedStorm, who took an 8-0 record into Wednesday afternoon’s game at Mount Vernon Nazarene, claims its 47th all-time No. 1 ranking, which is the second-most behind the amount of 48 from Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) – the No. 6 team in this week’s poll.

Ironically, the Blue Raiders will pay a visit to Rio Grande on Saturday night.

The RedStorm, whose eight-game winning streak is tied with Mount Mercy (Iowa) for the longest current streak in the country, are back on top of the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 16, 2014 and have been ranked No. 1 in six of the past eight polls dating back to last year.

Rio Grande, which ranks second with 89 consecutive appearances in the NAIA Top 25, has garnered at least one top ranking in each of the past three seasons and four out of the last five overall.

Davenport (Mich.), which is trying to become the first team to be ranked preseason No. 1 and win the national championship in the same season since Lindsey Wilson did it in 2001, slipped to No. 2 with 494 points.

Oklahoma Wesleyan (489 pts.), Thomas, Ga. (468 pts.) and Missouri Valley (450 pts.) rounded out the top five. Thomas received the remaining first-place nod.

Eight teams were newcomers to the poll this week – No. 10 Baker (Kan.), No. 14 Corban (Ore.), No. 16 The Master’s (Calif.), No. 18 (tie) Florida Memorial and Lyon (Ark.), No. 21 Rocky Mountain (Mont.), No. 22 Holy Cross (Ind.) and No. 23 Spring Arbor (Mich.). The ranking is the first in school history for Florida Memorial, Holy Cross and Spring Arbor.

Sixteen of the 19 conferences, Association of Independent Institutions (AII) and unaffiliated group were represented this week. The Heart of America Athletic Conference fields the most representatives in the Top 25 with four total: No. 5 Missouri Valley, No. 10 Baker, No. 17 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) and No. 25 Grand View (Iowa). Six other leagues landed a pair of ranked programs.

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing