UNOH Sends Both Soccer Teams to NAIA Opening Round
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Soccer - Sun, Nov. 16, 2014

LIMA, Ohio – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced the men's and women's soccer teams that have qualified for the Opening Round of the NAIA National Tournament on Sunday night, and for the first time in the young history of their programs, both of the University of Northwestern Ohio's teams made the cut.

 

The women dropped one spot in the final rating and in the final Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI), but still held on to a top five position in the MRPI – which is used to seed the 31 team field. On the other side of the ledger, after some tense moments on Saturday, the UNOH men were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief on Sunday evening as they held steady at 16th in the MRPI, grabbing the seventh of eight at-large berths to the tournament.

"Of course winning our conference, we knew we were in," remarked women's head coach Stuart Gore when the qualifying teams were announced by the NAIA National Office, "but being ranked fifth in the final MRPI is a true credit to how hard my team has worked this season."

 

The women's team is the lone representative from the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, as their opponent in the WHAC final  - the Siena Heights Saints – finished as the first team on the outside looking in, ranking 18th in the final MRPI. Seven conferences did get multiple teams in the field of 31 teams, led by the Golden State Athletic Conference's four bids. The Southern States Athletic Conference nabbed three spots in the tournament, while the Mid-South Conference, the Great Plains Athletic Conference, the American Midwest Conference, the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, and the Sun Conference all grabbed two berths.

 

"It was great to get our first team goal accomplished in being crowned WHAC champions, but now we are focused on the next team goal in front of our faces," Gore continued. "We are looking forward to the selection show tomorrow to see who that team will be."

 

Things were a bit less certain for the UNOH men, who dropped a heartbreaking WHAC final on Friday to Davenport University and had to wait to see how eight other conference title matches ended on Saturday before they were able to assess the situation and feel like they still had a shot at qualifying.

 

In the end, with the Racers making the field, head coach Gavin Oldham believes his team not only belongs in the mix, but that they will be ready to take advantage of the reprieve they were granted.

 

"Without a doubt, this team deserves to be in the national championship mix," remarked Oldham. "We have performed consistently well all season, and now it is time to do that on a national stage."

 

The Racers join WHAC champion Davenport in the field, making the WHAC one of seven groups to get multiple qualifiers into the tournament. The SSAC and the Heart of America Athletic Conference lead the way with three bids each, while two teams from the CCAC, the WHAC, the Association of Independent Institutions, the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference, and the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference made the tournament field.

 

"We are looking forward to finding out who we are playing," Oldham said, focused on the road ahead, "and preparing for Saturday's game."

 

The games will both take place on Saturday, November 22. The times, opponents, and locations will be announced by the NAIA National Office on Monday afternoon on live graphical selection shows which can be seen on www.naia.org. The women's selection show will take place at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, with the men's show following at 3 p.m. EST.