KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Reinhardt (Ga.) will look to keep its amazing season alive Saturday when it opens play in the 2011 NAIA Women's Soccer National Championship Opening Round at third-seeded Lee (Tenn.).
Reinhardt (14-3-2 overall) won the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular-season title with a spotless 7-0 record and went on to win the conference tournament by outscoring its opponents 10-2 in three matches. This is the Lady Eagles' first-ever appearance in the national tournament.
Lee (18-2 overall) is the tournament's No. 3 seed and ended the year ranked No. 2 in the final 2011 NAIA Women's Soccer Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Qualifying as the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament champion, Lee is making its eighth tournament appearance as the Lady Flames are 21-3-2 all-time having won the last three NAIA Women's Soccer National Championships.
There will be 32 teams participating at 16 different on-campus sites around the country on Nov. 19. The winners of the National Championship Opening Round games will advance to the National Championship final site of Jack Allen Recreation Complex in Decatur, Ala., Nov. 28 - Dec. 3.
Twenty-three teams earned an automatic berth to the 32-team national championship field by winning their respective conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournament. Mobile (Ala.) also earned an automatic berth as the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) Tournament runner-up. The Lady Rams will welcome Texas at Brownsville.
Top-seeded and undefeated Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (17-0-2) is set to take on Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.). It is the first time the Lady Raiders have advanced to the National Championship after winning the American Mideast Conference Tournament.
In addition to Reinhardt and Roberts Wesleyan, two other squads, Science & Arts (Okla.) and Westminster (Utah), punched a ticket to their first-ever national championship with an automatic berth.
Nine at-large berths were awarded based on the final official NAIA Women's Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI). Of the at-large berths that were awarded, a pair sent programs to their first-ever National Championship in Concordia (Calif.) and Judson (Ill.). The seven other at-larges went to Graceland (Iowa), Houghton (N.Y.), Northwood (Fla.), Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.), Robert Morris (Ill.), Trinity Christian (Ill.) and Westmont (Calif.).
Five of this year's qualifiers have made 10-or more national championship appearances, led by Azusa Pacific (Calif.) and Westmont with 14. Houghton and Lindsey Wilson have each made 13 trips to the event, and Concordia (Ore.) has advanced 11 times. There are six teams that have taken home the banner at least once, including five-time national champion Westmont. Both Lindsey Wilson and Martin Methodist (Tenn.) have twice captured the title.
For the complete bracket, click here.
For more information on the tournament, click here.