KANSAS CITY, Mo. ----- After winning its way into the 2012 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship with its 2-1 victory in the Southern States Athletic Conference Championship match, the Auburn University at Montgomery men's soccer team earned its official bid to the National Championship Tournament Sunday, as the NAIA officially released the 32 qualifiers for the opening round.
The opening round of the tournament will be held on 16 on-campus locations on Saturday, November 17. The 16 opening round winners will advance to the 54th annual national championship final site from Nov. 26 - Dec. 1 at the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex in Montgomery, Ala.
The 32 teams are comprised of 24 automatic qualifiers awarded to conference/independent/unaffiliated group tournament and regular-season champions. The remainder of the field is made up of eight at-large teams, selected by the final NAIA Men's Soccer Modified Ratings Percentage Index (MRPI) announced today.
"This is our first time back in the national tournament since the 2007 season, when we advanced to the final four," AUM head coach Wulf Koch said. "We have had a couple of seasons where we were felt we deserved to go, but did not get in. I think we are a talented team, but we are still very young and inexperienced, so to make it this year is quite an accomplishment. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves from the start of the season to make the tournament since it is being held in Montgomery. We are excited about having the opportunity to play for a national title."
The Warhawks, who enters the tournament with a 16-3-2 record, finished second in the MRPI rankings at 0.890604. Defending national champion Lindsey Wilson posted the top MRPI at 0.915027. The MRPI consists of the team's modified winning percentage, their opponents' winning percentage and the cumulative ratings points from the NAIA Men's Soccer Coaches' Top 25 Poll. Each of the three values has a weighted percentage calculated in the MRPI.
AUM is one of four teams from the SSAC to make the national championship, as Mobile, Belhaven and Southern Poly will join the Warhawks.
The bracket for the National Championship Opening Round will be released Monday at 1 p.m.