For the second consecutive season, the Ashford University soccer teams will open their respective campaigns just outside of the NAIA Top 25 polls.
The men, who finished the 2011 season with a 14-5-1 record overall, accumulated 51 points in the 2012 Men's Soccer Coaches' Preseason Top 25 to land them as the No. 29-ranked team in the nation. The Saints also emerged as the top-ranked squad in the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) when the first Conference/Group polls were released Wednesday.
Behind AU in the A.I.I. poll includes Cal. State-San Marcos, La Sierra University (Calif.), Jamestown College (N.D.) and the University of Houston-Victoria. The Saints and CSSM have one regular-season matchup slated for Oct. 6 when the two squads meet at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On the opposite side of the ledger, the AU women collected seven points in the initial 2012 Women's Soccer Coaches' Preseason Top 25 poll, placing them in a tie for the No. 36 ranking. Additionally, the Saints have been selected as the second-ranked team in the A.I.I. for the first Conference/Group polls of the season. Ashford finished 2011 with an 11-6-2 record.
Ashford slid in just behind Cal. State-San Marcos but sits ahead of the Houston-Victoria, Jamestown, Rochester University (Mich.) and Fisher College (Mass.). Like the men, the women also have a contest slated with CSSM, taking place Oct. 12 in San Marcos, Calif.
Another A.I.I. opponent, Jamestown, visits Clinton on Oct. 20 for a doubleheader. The men's game is set for a 3 p.m. start, with the women's contest to follow at approximately 5 p.m.
Both AU teams open the 2012 regular season with road matches on Aug. 25. The men visit Mishawaka, Ind., to line up against Bethel College (Ind.), while the women travel to Marshall, Mo., to battle Missouri Valley College.
The next NAIA poll release date is set for Sept. 4.