(published 11/14/11)Waleska, Ga. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has announced the schedule for the 28th Annual NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship tournament, and the Reinhardt University women’s soccer team’s first-round game is on the road against the No. 2-ranked Lee University Lady Flames, the three-time defending NAIA national champions. The match is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. in Cleveland, Tenn.
The 32-team event includes 23 automatic qualifiers and nine at-large selections. The tournament begins on Saturday with 16 opening-round games being played at campus sites. Saturday’s winners advance to the final site at the Jack Allen Recreation Center in Decatur, Ala., where a single-elimination tournament takes place from Nov. 28-Dec. 3.
The winner of the Reinhardt-Lee contest moves on the face the winner between the Houghton (N.Y.) College Lady Highlanders and No. 14-seeded Northwood University Seahawks (from West Palm Beach, Fla.) on Monday, Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (7:30 p.m. Eastern). Houghton is rated 17th in the NAIA and Northwood No. 12.
Reinhardt, the Appalachian Athletic Conference regular season champion with a perfect 7-0-0 record, is 14-3-2 overall and making its first-ever appearance at the NAIA national event. The Lady Eagles, who received four points in the latest NAIA poll to rank tied for 38th, set a single-season school record for wins and two of their losses came to NCAA Division II opponents. Reinhardt, which is riding a five-game winning streak, earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA nationals by claiming the AAC Tournament title at home last Saturday. Earlier this season, the Lady Eagles had a school-record nine-match unbeaten streak.
Lee, this year’s third overall seed, is playing in the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship for the eighth time and has posted a 21-3-2 record in the tournament. The Lady Flames, who received a berth as the champions of the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament, are 18-2-0 overall. Lee, which also claimed the SSAC regular season crown at 12-0-0, is on a 15-game winning streak, outscoring the opposition 94-4 during that stretch.
Reinhardt, which is a former member of the SSAC, and the Lady Flames are somewhat familiar with one another. The teams played nine times from 2002-08 with Lee holding a 9-0-0 advantage in the all-time series. In the last meeting on Sept. 10, 2008 at Reinhardt, the contest was scoreless until the 64th minute when the Lady Flames pulled away for a 4-0 victory. Lee went on to capture its first national title in 2008.
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