Soccer committee meeting: 2A expands playoff bracket; new seeding criteria

Lotus Ridgway boys soccer

(Aidan Hicks/aidanhicksphotography.com)

The soccer committee met last month, and made some big changes in Class 2A.

Each of the changes sought to address some issues within the classification, while also helping to align it more with how 3A, 4A and 5A are setup.

"When 2A soccer came on board, the intention was to increase program participation in the sport at our smaller member schools, while at the same time, maintaining programs at our smaller member schools currently offering the sport. We have been successful in achieving this goal," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Justin Saylor, who administers the sport. "The next step in ensuring the success of 2A soccer is aligning it with our other classifications, regarding alignment of leagues and playoff qualification — while at the same time, addressing the travel and host site issues unique to the classification.

"I believe we have achieved this with the changes made by the committee."

For starters, the state tournament bracket was expanded from 12 to 16 teams, which bring the classification more in line in terms of percentage of teams qualifying for the postseason. 2A will have 32 teams in the 2020-22 two-year cycle.

In addition, the dates of the first and second round of the 2A tournament have been moved to a Friday/Saturday format, with four-team pods each traveling to the top four seeds in the tournament and playing the games at one site. This past season, the rounds were played on Wednesday and Saturday.

"This will help us eliminate travel and missed school times, because of how spread out the classification is," Saylor said.

Finally, every 2A team was placed into a league, doing away with a format which allowed some teams to play independently, and certain leagues to have schedules where not every team in a league played one another.

These committee proposals, like all recommendations, must be approved by the Legislative Council in April 2020.

Of note, the committee last year passed a game minimum in 2A which is set to begin in the fall of 2020. Teams must play a minimum of 12 games in order to qualify for the postseason, 10 of which must be against schools which belong to state associations that are members of the NFHS.

All classes of soccer have also adopted a new seeding criteria, one that uses a combined formula from the RPI standings, MaxPreps rankings, and CHSAANow coaches poll to seed the fields after they are determined. Other sports, such as volleyball and field hockey have followed football's lead in this area in doing the same during their committee meetings this fall.