Rocky Mountain College will be playing at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, Saturday in the opening round of the 25th annual NAIA women's soccer championships.
The first-round bracket for the 30-team field was announced by the NAIA on Sunday night. No game times were immediately available.
Rocky, which will be making its first appearance at nationals, secured an automatic bid on Saturday by winning at Carroll College 1-0 in the finals of the NAIA Unaffiliated Conference Tournament.
Coach Richard Duffy's Battlin' Bears will enter the national competition with a 14-3 overall record and riding an eight-game winning streak. Simon Fraser, seeded 11th in the national tournament field, is 11-6 overall and received an at-large berth.
Simon Fraser is ranked 12th in the latest NAIA Top 25 poll, while Rocky is unranked.
"We're going to go up there and give it everything we've got," said Duffy. "I've told the girls that we're just one game away from going to Disney World."
This will be the Clan's 10th appearance at nationals, but first since 2005. Simon Fraser captured the 1996 and 2000 NAIA national championships.
The Clan lost on penalty kicks (7-6) to Cal State San Marcos Saturday in the finals of the NAIA Association of Independent Institutions Tournament in San Antonio, Texas.
The Battlin' Bears and Clan have already met once this season, with Simon Fraser scoring a goal in the 88th minute to beat Rocky 2-1 on Aug. 29 in Olympia, Wash.
Duffy said he was hoping his Battlin' Bears would be paired against somebody different, but added that his players are excited about tackling the Clan in a rematch.
"On the positive side, from a coaching standpoint, I know how they play and what their strengths and weaknesses are," said Duffy. "They're a big, aggressive, physical team."
Rocky and Simon Fraser will be two of 30 teams competing in play-in games Saturday on campus sites around the U.S. and Canada. The 15 winners move on to the tournament's final rounds to be played Dec. 1-6 in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Host Embry-Riddle, Fla., will complete the 16-team bracket once the second round gets under way in Florida.
Besides landing a spot in the national bracket, the Battlin' Bears also came very close to cracking the final regular season Top 25 poll on Sunday.
Rocky is the top team also receiving votes, falling just four points behind No. 25 Benedictine College of Kansas. The Battlin' Bears, who have outscored foes 40-14 and registered 10 shutouts this fall, have been ranked as high as 20th this season.
• • •
While the women's soccer team at Rocky is marching on to the national tournament, the Battlin' Bears' volleyball players are staying home.
Rocky, which posted a 19-8 overall record and finished second over the weekend at the conference tournament in Lewiston, Idaho, was hoping for an at-large berth to the NAIA championships.
That didn't materialize on Sunday as the NAIA filled its 36-team field with 27 automatic qualifiers - conference/independent champions - and nine at-large bids.
Lewis-Clark State, which won the Frontier's regular season and tournament titles, is the conference's only representative at nationals. The No. 14-ranked Warriors, 28-2, will be making their ninth appearance on the national stage.
The Idaho school will be competing in a play-in match on Saturday, hosting unranked Shawnee State of Ohio.
In volleyball, the 29th annual tournament will feature 36 teams with 12 opening round matches played Saturday at on-campus sites.
The top 12 teams in Sunday's Top 25 poll received a bye in the opening round and will advance to the final site in Sioux City, Iowa.
The tournament will be held at the Tyson Events Center/Gateway Arena from Dec. 2-6 in Sioux City.
Azusa Pacific (Calif.), Biola (Calif.), California Baptist, Concordia (Calif.), Doane (Neb.), Dordt (Iowa), Indiana Tech, Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) and Vanguard (Calif.) received the at-large bids.