For the third time in five years, Grace College’s women’s soccer team is headed to the NAIA National Championships.
The NAIA released the complete tournament field on Monday, placing each qualifying team into a three-team Opening Round pod.
Grace will play Opening Round matches at Benedictine in Atchison, Kan. The Lady Lancers will take on Friends in the first match on Friday. The winner of Grace/Friends will play Benedictine on Saturday.
Whichever team wins the Opening Round bracket will advance to the final site in Orange Beach Ala., where the final 16 teams will battle for the NAIA championship over the span of a week.
Grace is one of six teams from the Crossroads League to make NAIA Nationals, joining Indiana Wesleyan, Marian, Spring Arbor, Taylor and Mt. Vernon Nazarene.
GETTING TO KNOW FRIENDS
Friends remains in-state as a Kansas member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC). Friends boasts a 15-5 record, including a 10-2 mark in the KCAC.
The Falcons did not appear in the final NAIA Top 25 Coaches’ Poll and are making their first appearance in team history to NAIA Nationals.
Two players have accounted for two-thirds of Friends’ goals this season. Jazelle Gonzalez has 14 goals to date, and Paige Achey has 12 goals.
GETTING TO KNOW BENEDICTINE
Benedictine is ranked No. 22 in the final NAIA poll. The Ravens are making their eighth appearance to NAIA Nationals and boast a 12-6-2 mark all-time in championship play.
Benedictine was the runner-up in the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament. The Ravens have an overall record of 16-5 and are 9-1 when playing at home.
The Ravens boast one of the highest-scoring teams in the nation, ranking top-10 in the NAIA for both goals (72) and assists (64). Nicole Kelly is one of the top goalscoring threats that Grace has faced this year, amassing 28 goals to rank No. 8 in the NAIA. – from gclancers.com