Women’s soccer garners first-ever national ranking; officially named national qualifier

NAIA women’s soccer top 25 poll

SEWARD, Neb. – On the heels of its first-ever GPAC tournament title that clinched its first-ever national tournament berth, the Concordia University women’s soccer team has received its first-ever national ranking. In the final regular-season edition of the NAIA Women’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll released on Sunday evening, the Bulldogs checked in at No. 24.

The NAIA also officially announced Concordia as one of 31 qualifiers that will make up the field at the 2014 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championships. National tournament opening-round pairings will be announced at 1 p.m. CST on Monday. The opening-round games will be played at campus sites. The winners then advance to the final site in Orange Beach, Ala.

The national ranking represents yet another accomplishment in a 2014 campaign that has included program records for wins (15) and shutouts (12) and an unbeaten run through the GPAC regular season and postseason. Said second-year head coach Greg Henson on Nov. 1, “This team has really set the new standard for the women’s soccer program.”

Concordia will put its streak of 13-straight games (9-0-4) without a loss on the line on Saturday against an opening round opponent yet to be determined. The Bulldogs began preparation for the national tournament with a practice inside the Fieldhouse on Sunday afternoon.

The Bulldogs vaulted into the top 25 thanks to their second win of the season over a nationally-ranked Hastings squad. Jessica Skerston’s 17th goal of the year provided the only score in Concordia’s 1-0 GPAC tournament championship victory over the Broncos on Thursday night. The loss dropped Hastings (No. 20 last week) out of the rankings. However, the Broncos received the seventh and final at-large bid and will make their fifth trip to the national championships.

Concordia is one of seven teams making their first-ever national tournament appearance. The other six are AIB (Iowa), Menlo (Calif.), Northwestern Ohio, Oklahoma Baptist, Rio Grande (Ohio) and William Woods (Mo.)

The Bulldogs own a record of 3-1 against national qualifying teams. In addition to the two wins over Hastings, Concordia defeated AIB (Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament champion), 1-0, in the season opener. Henson’s squad dropped a 4-3 decision to Bellevue University, the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference champion, on Sept. 3.

The complete national tournament qualifying field can be viewed HERE. Check back on Monday for coverage of Concordia’s opening round matchup.