CHICKASHA – The Drovers travel to Missouri Valley to compete in their fifth straight NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Opening Round, according to pairings released by the NAIA on Monday afternoon.
Ranked No. 11 in the nation, the Drovers (15-4) take on the No. 20 Vikings (12-4-4) on Saturday in Marshall, Mo. Game time is set for 4 p.m.
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma qualified for the tournament with the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship win on Thursday afternoon against Saint Gregory’s. The Vikings earned their ticket to nationals with the seventh at-large bid.
“It’s a tough match up. Missouri Valley is well-coached, talented and disciplined,” USAO head coach Jimmy Hampton said. “They have had a great year and it will be a tough game on the road.”
The winner of Saturday’s game will go on to the round of 16 at the 2013 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship final site in Montgomery, Ala. The defeated team will see its season end on Saturday.
“We will have a normal training week and try to be as sharp and match-ready as we possibly can be,” Hampton said. “There are two talented teams playing Saturday.”
USAO has some experience with the Vikings, having played them in Marshall in the Opening Round in 2011. The Drovers went on to win that game thanks to two second-half goals by current Drover Kalokwera Okot. Keeper Bryan Byars had nine saves in that game.
This is the Drovers’ fifth trip to the opening round. They are 3-1 in the Opening Round and 5-4 in the National Championship Tournament.
The Vikings have been to the Opening Round the last three years and are 0-3 in the national tournament.
USAO in the only school in the Sooner Athletic Conference and one of only two in the state to receive a bid to the tournament.
Admission tickets for those traveling are $7 for general admission or $3 for students with a current and valid student ID.