For the fifth time in six seasons, the No. 8 John Brown University women's soccer team will be playing NAIA National Championships soccer at Alumni Field after the Golden Eagles were selected as one of 16 First and Second Round hosts and picked as the overall eighth seed in the 2023 field, the NAIA National Office announced Monday afternoon.
After defeating Science & Arts (Okla.) in the Sooner Athletic championship match, the Golden Eagles (17-2-1) guaranteed its appearance in the program's 10th National Championships tournament by claiming the league's only autobid. Joining JBU in the Siloam Springs bracket will be the 25th seed, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.), and the 40th seed, Friends (Kan.).
Both Olivet Nazarene and Friends received berths into the field after both programs made appearances in their respective conference tournament championship matches. ONU fell to St. Ambrose (Iowa) by a slim 1-0 final in the Chicagoland Collegiate, while Friends took a 2-0 loss from Oklahoma Wesleyan in the Kansas Collegiate final but received an autobid via finishing as the KCAC regular season runners-up.
Last season, after enjoying four consecutive seasons of serving as an Opening Round host, the Golden Eagles traveled to Williamsburg, Ky., home of the University of the Cumberlands, where the Golden Eagles fell in the First Round to Indiana Wesleyan, 3-0, despite out-shooting the Wildcats by a wide 19-9 margin.
With the tournament format changing for the 2023 season, John Brown will earn a bye into the Second Round, allowing the Tigers and Falcons to battle it out on Thursday (Nov. 16) night at Alumni Field, with the squads kicking off at 6 p.m. The winner will then take on the Golden Eagles in matinee action on Saturday (Nov. 18) afternoon, scheduled to get underway in a 1 p.m. start.
Head coach Dr. Kathleen Paulsen has now guided the program to eight NAIA National Championships appearances in 11 seasons. John Brown is 4-7-2 in nine previous appearances (2005-10-13-16-18-19-20-21-22), and made history in 2020 season when it advanced deeper than any other run in program history after ousting Baker (Kan.) and Oklahoma Wesleyan in the Opening Round at Alumni Field. The Blue and Gold advanced to Foley to play in the Second Round before falling in penalties to Central Methodist (Mo.), ending an undefeated 15-0-1 record-setting season.
In 2021, the Golden Eagles systematically ousted Friends, 2-0, before falling to Cumberlands (Ky.) by a 2-0 final in the Opening Round finals.
John Brown finished its sixth undefeated run through the Sooner Athletic table this season, out-scoring teams by a 33-2 combined margin. JBU then ran through the conference tournament, ousting Southwestern Christian (Okla.), Mid-America Christian (Okla.) and Science & Arts, claiming the squad's sixth tournament title and fourth in a row.
JBU has compiled a 4-2-0 record versus top-25 opposition this season while outscoring opponents by a 65-15 margin in 2023. The Golden Eagles are currently 11-0-1 at Alumni Field this year, the program's best home-field winning percentage since 2016 (13-0-0).