The craziness in the W-League hasn’t stopped. In the Central Conference, the defending champion Ottawa Fury suffered their third loss of the season to the Laval Comets, who clinched the conference title with the win. Ottawa had to down the Toronto Lady Lynx on Saturday just to come in second, breaking a streak of nine consecutive years at the top of their division. Those two teams will play each other again on Wednesday at Ottawa, with the winner going on to play Laval on Saturday. The winner of that match will be the conference’s representative in the Final Four.
In the Northeastern Conference, the Washington Spirit Reserves got just one point out of their last two matches to finish eight points behind the Virginia Beach Piranhas, who suffered only one loss (to the Reserves) and one tie (New Jersey Wildcats) to finish with the best record in the league. The Piranhas will host the Reserves Friday night at 8 pm with the winner going onto the W-League Final Four.
The Dayton Dutch Lions had already clinched the Southeastern Conference title, so their loss to VSI Tampa Bay FC didn’t mean anything. Meanwhile, the Carolina Elite Cobras took down the Charlotte Lady Eagles to claim second place and finish a complete changing of the guard in that region with the Atlanta Silverbacks also eliminated by the result. Dayton will host Carolina on Friday to determine the league semifinalist.
Only the Western Conference had some semblance of normality, with the Pali Blues coming out on top, as usual, accomplishing their must-win against the Santa Clarita Blue Heat on Sunday. However, the Seattle Sounders, in first place not that long ago, fell to the Bay Area Breeze, which allowed the Los Angeles Strikers to claim second place by winning their last two matches on the road in Colorado. The Strikers will play the Blues on Sunday, and lest you think that’s a foregone conclusion note that Pali has only two losses this year, and both of those were to LA.
Assuming overall seeding is based on the usual points-percentage (points earned divided by the maximum possible points), here’s how the playoff teams rank:
1. (0.86) Virginia Beach
2. (0.75) Laval
3. (0.72) Pali
4. (0.67) LA
5. (0.64) Washington
6. (0.64) Ottawa
7. (0.60) Dayton
8. (0.55) Toronto
9. (0.53) Carolina
Washington is ahead of Ottawa due to a better goal differential.
Unlike last year, it’s very close to a fair outcome. The only team with a right to complain would be the Seattle Sounders Women, who as the third-place team in the west missed out despite having a record identical to Washington and Ottawa.
And the W-League at least is very upfront about its playoff system. By contrast, my writeup on the WPSL has a certain amount of speculation since there’s nothing at all on the website about how the playoffs are organized.
So let’s start in the East Conference, since that one is pretty clear. The East has four divisions: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Tri-State, and South Atlantic. The top two teams in each division make the playoffs, with the #1 New England team playing the #2 Mid-Atlantic team, and vice versa, and similarly for Tri-State, and South Atlantic. With a frantic weekend of playoffs, eight teams were winnowed down to two, as follows:
Empire Revs WNY (MA #1) 3 – Boston Breakers College Academy (NE #2) 1
New England Mutiny (NE #1) 1 – Syracuse Lady Knights (MA #2) 0
New York Athletic Club (TS #1) 3 – Lancaster Inferno (SA #2) 1
ASA Chesapeake Charge (SA #1) 1 – Long Island Fury (TS #2) 0
New England Mutiny 2 – Empire Revs WNY 0
ASA Chesapeake Charge 3 – New York Athletic Club 1
The Charge will host the Mutiny this Saturday at 7 pm with the winner going on to the WPSL Final Four.
Now let’s go out west, where the top two teams in the Northwest-Washington and Northwest-Oregon make the playoffs, again with the #1 of one division playing the #2 of the other, and the winners playing. That’s also been completed:
Issaquah Soccer Club (WA #1) 3 – Eugene Metro Futbol Club (OR #2) 0
AC Seattle (WA #2) 1 – THUSC Diamonds (OR #1) 0
AC Seattle 3 – Issaquah Soccer Club 1
Now we start to do some surmising, so take the rest with the grain of salt. AC Seattle will travel to Sacramento to participate in a Regional Final Four, facing the Pacific-North Champions (Storm Elk Grove according to the standings) on Saturday, while the Big Sky-North champion (Tucson Soccer Academy) play the Pacific-South Champion (San Diego SeaLions). On Sunday, the winners play for the right to go to the league Final Four.
The other playoffs have been in the Midwest:
Des Moines Menace (MW#4) 4 – Ohio Galaxies (MW#1) 1
Fire and Ice Soccer Club (MW#2) 4 – Kansas City Shock (MW#3) 2
Fire and Ice Soccer Club 2 – Des Moines Menace 0
The Fire and Ice Soccer Club will travel to Texas to play the Big Sky-South Champion Houston Aces – the only team in the league with a perfect record – on Saturday, with the winner (presumably) going on to the league Final Four.
Okay, that’s three of the four teams. Well, it’s not on the schedule, but my guess is that the Sunshine Division Champion Florida Sol FC will play the Southeast Division Champion (and defending league champion) Gulf Coast Texans, and the winner of that will fill out the Final Four. At least those are the only divisions left unaccounted for.
The main unfairness in the WPSL playoffs is an unequal division of playoff spots. The East Conference, with 24 teams, gets one Final Four slot. Likewise, the West Region with 23 teams gets one slot. But the Midwest gets a slot despite having only 14 teams, and the Southeast/Sunshine divisions get a slot (evidently) with only 9 teams.