The 2019 NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship Tourney, which started Monday at the Orange Beach Sportsplex, culminates with the NAIA National Championship match on Saturday, December 7 at 6 p.m. The semifinals are a day earlier at 3 p.m.and 6 p.m.
Fans may purchase daily passes for $15 and tournament passes for $35 at the gate. Children 10 and under will be admitted free.
This season for the first time, 45 teams played for the opportunity to join host institution Mobile College in Orange Beach. In the end, 12 of the 15 opening round hosts advanced as three upsets occurred. Rocky Mountain (Mont.) was the lone No. 3-seed to advance and joined Eastern Oregon and Grace (Ind.) in upsets at their respective sites. The NAIA Network will broadcast all 15 matches live.
Soccer action is not the only thing that draws the NAIA to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Brad Cygan, director of athletics communications for the NAIA, shares how student-athletes work hard to get to the championship and are rewarded with a retreat along Alabama’s beaches.
“One of the biggest reasons we love both our women’s soccer and track and field championships in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores is the emphasis the region puts on the student-athlete experience,” said Cygan. “These are memories our student-athletes will carry with them for the rest of their lives, and the time and effort that the region puts in to make these events special is fantastic.”
Likewise, NAIA’s impact on the coastal communities transcends beyond economic impact. Each NAIA championship features a Teaming Up for Character Event as part of its Champions of Character initiative, and during the week, student-athletes conduct soccer clinics at local schools. Additionally, the NAIA encourages Gulf Shores and Orange Beach residents to bring new toys to the Orange Beach Sportsplex to benefit local children through the Christian Service Center.
“Each year, the NAIA shows up and shows out in our beach communities, leaving behind tourism dollars and a lasting personal impact through the Champions of Character Program,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission. “We hope to give the student-athletes a destination experience of a lifetime and welcome them back for future family vacations.”
Seven of the 16 qualifiers for the 2019 final site were also there a season ago. Mobile (Ala.), Keiser (Fla.), Southeastern (Fla.), William Carey (Miss.), Eastern Oregon, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Martin Methodist (Tenn.) all repeat in 2019.
The Crossroads League and the Southern States Athletic Conference lead all leagues with three qualifiers in the final site field. Westmont’s five national titles are the most among the 2019 final site qualifiers and the most in NAIA history.
Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) has an opportunity to tie Westmont for the most red banners in history. The Blue Raiders are tied with former member Lee (Tenn.) with four.
William Carey (Miss.) will attempt to become the first team since 2011 to win back-to-back national championships. Former member institution Lee (Tenn.) won four-in-a-row from 2008 through 2011. Central Methodist (Mo.) lead all teams with 22 wins on the season. The Eagles are the lone undefeated team in the field. William Carey will try to become the first back-to-back NAIA National Champion since former member Lee (Tenn.) claimed four-straight red banners from 2008-11.