COLUMBIA, Ky. — Tucked away in rural Columbia, Ky., are two of collegiate soccer’s most tradition-rich programs.
Lindsey Wilson College, a four-year liberal arts school with an enrollment of 2,677, has seen its student-athletes win nine NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championships and two women’s titles.
And with both teams currently ranked in the NAIA top-three, this season it’s hungry for more.
Coming in at No. 1 in the NAIA Coaches’ Top-25 Poll, the Blue Raider men feature a roster with players from 11 different countries.
While it doesn’t get to test itself at the higher exposed NCAA Div. I level, Lindsey Wilson has tradition on its side to prove its worth, including sending five players to play Major League Soccer (MLS).
At 7:30 p.m. CT on Thursday night, at its picturesque Walter S. Reuling Stadium nestled in the middle of campus, Lindsey Wilson will be playing for its 12th Mid-South Conference (MSC) Tournament Championship in 13 years.
In its way will be Rio Grande (Ohio), currently ranked right behind the Blue Raiders at No. 2 in the national poll.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact Rio Grande is the last team to beat the Blue Raiders, winning 3-2 in double overtime back in September. That win snapped Lindsey Wilson’s 33-game winning streak, the longest standing streak in the country at the time.
Just to paint a picture of how powerful these two programs are in the NAIA, take a look at the following notes.
Lindsey Wilson and Rio Grande have been ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the last eight national polls. Lindsey Wilson leads the nation in the most all-time No.1 rankings at 42, while Rio Grande is second at 39. The Blue Raiders’ nine national titles are the most among active NAIA programs, while Rio Grande is looking to add to its one championship.
All that history makes way for Thursday night’s tilt to be a classc.
But before the attention turns to the matchup between the nation’s top-two men’s teams, the powerful Lindsey Wilson women’s program will be looking to add to its resume of success.
The third-ranked Blue Raider women start the night off at 5 p.m., playing Cumberland (Tenn.) in the MSC Championship game.
Lindsey Wilson has won the past 10 conference tournament titles and will have to beat one of the league’s newest members to make it 11.
Cumberland joined the conference as a full-time member over the summer and wasted no time becoming a major player in women’s soccer. The Bulldogs finished as the MSC regular-season runner-up with an 8-1 league record and currently stand at 17-2 overall.
One of the two losses came against the Blue Raiders on Sept. 25 as Lindsey Wilson sent in a goal in each half for a 2-0 shutout. The two programs have played eight times overall with the Blue Raiders leading the series 7-1.
Lindsey Wilson looks forward to welcoming a great crowd from the community and college, although those unable to make it to the stadium can watch both games for free on Lindsey Wilson GameCentral. Live stats are also available of both contests.
Also be sure to follow the athletic department on Twitter @LWCAthletics for updates throughout the day.