Each week, one of our NAIA writers will give us a run down of which teams are on the rise and which teams took a step back. Take a look at this week’s stock report:
Indiana Tech Makes Moves – NAIA Weekly Stock Report
No. 4 Indiana Tech has played with a chip on its shoulder for the past few years now. After taking care of No. 6 Cumberlands last week, 11-6, the Warriors woke up and chose violence as it dismantled a highly-praised No. 6 Benedictine program, 20-3. If this season has shown us anything thus far, it is that no one can really seem to compete with the Indiana Tech midfield. Going 25-for-27 on clears, on top of Benedictine’s 44 turnovers, just shows how truly dominate this Tech midfield can be.
There is only one program in the country that seems to matchup against this Warriors team, and as fate would have it, they play each other this upcoming Wednesday. It is likely that this game is a preview of the national championship game, as both programs currently seem to be above any of their competition. Indiana Tech will continue its home game stretch taking on No. 1 Reinhardt for the chance to prove that this Warriors program can compete for a national title. If you haven’t bought stock in the Indiana Tech program, now is the time to do so.
No. 9 in the NAIA poll, St. Ambrose traveled up to Michigan to take on No. 8 Aquinas over the weekend. This game delivered on everything you would want from a top-10 matchup with the game being decided by St. Ambrose’s Hunter Northway dominating at the faceoff X, going 15-for-22. The Fighting Bees would close out the game with an 11-7 win. SAU currently holds a 4-1 record and will inevitably be 6-1 after its conference matches against Midland and Morningside later this week. Its one loss came against No. 4 Indiana Tech early in the season but was still a gritty matchup resulting in a 9-5 final score.
If this loss has shown us anything, it’s that St. Ambrose can compete with top-tier programs, which has yet to be seen from any other KCAC school. The games that will decide the KCAC title hopes are against No. 3 Columbia and No. 6 Benedictine. Considering St. Ambrose played a close game against Indiana Tech, unlike Benedictine, I feel confident in saying the KCAC is going to boil down to the Fighting Bees and Columbia College. Only time will tell what is in store for this program, but if it remains on its current trajectory, I have no doubt that it could possibly bring home a conference title.
Siena Heights would kick off its season by making the trip down to No. 6 Cumberlands. The Patriots were probably hoping for a lighter matchup after their lackluster performance against No. 4 Indiana Tech, but that would not be the case. With a defensive showdown in the first quarter, the Saints would put up five goals in the second quarter and not look back ,finishing the game 11-5. Starting Saints goalie Vinnie Jean would put the team on his back with 14 saves on 19 shots. Throughout its program’s history, Siena Heights has always been extremely undervalued, mostly due to how competitive the WHAC is. With the Saints looking this competitive in their season opener, it would not surprise me if Siena began to turn some heads as the season progressed. When asked about the importance of this win for the program, first-year head coach Spencer Macek had a humble response in regards to his program moving forward.
It is difficult to put Cumberlands in this category, as it has the players, coaching, and experience to be a top-10 program. However, after losing its last two matches against WHAC opponents by a combined score of 22-11, it’s difficult to see how the Patriots will match up against skillful opponents moving forward. The AAC is stronger than ever, with Tennessee Wesleyan and SCAD-Savannah (if it plays) now looking like quality matchups against the beaten-up Patriots. Cumberlands will have the opportunity to defend its home turf against another WHAC opponent, this time being the Lourdes University Gray Wolves. If Cumberlands loses this matchup, it will be difficult to make the argument that it is a top NAIA program, let alone a top program in the AAC.
Lawrence Tech’s season is not over, I want to make that abundantly clear. This highly-praised Blue Devils team was not able to meet the expectation that comes with sitting at that No. 2 spot after their 19-6 loss against No. 1 Reinhardt. To be fair, the cards were stacked against them from the beginning. Only having five days of practice leading up to a season opener against a dominant Reinhardt program that already had two games under its belt is not the most ideal situation. A few roster changes were apparent on the Lawrence Tech website, as it appeared to be missing some key members of its program.
There are a lot of games left to be played for the Blue Devils, but this loss is going to hurt them in the long run, especially if Indiana Tech plays a close game against Reinhardt this week. With the WHAC being so competitive every year, Lawrence Tech needs to get its act together sooner than later as it faces No. 4 Indiana Tech this upcoming Saturday.
Having Keiser ranked in the top 10 is a blatant slap in the face to other NAIA programs. There is not a game on its schedule that makes me believe it has earned a No. 4 ranking in the country. With only two games remaining in its season (yes you read that right), it will be difficult for Keiser to prove me wrong. The only games of any significance on its schedule have already been played. One of them was a win over Cumberlands, who does not appear to be as good as everyone thought, and the other was an absolute blowout loss against No. 1 Reinhardt, 12-1. You would think a school not playing in a conference would go out of its way to schedule a full season against equal opponents to show the nation that it can compete for a national championship.
Is Keiser a good program? Absolutely. Is it a top-five program? Based on its performance against Reinhardt, I don’t believe so. The Seahawks have shown in the past that they are a top-tier program, but we should not be going off their history rather than their current results. Unless Keiser really shows up in its next two games, it has zero business being a top-10 program.