While the girls soccer state tournaments began on Tuesday, and the boys begin on Wednesday night, the competition figures to be as top-level in all three divisions as previous years.
The level of hair-pulling, however, is also nearly close to an all-time high.
Uncertainty surrounding the power rankings formulas and the rapid daily shift in those rankings. Schedules proved to be a hindrance to schools in terms of power rankings and seedings even though no one had control over its schedules, and issues with forfeits as part (or not part) of the calculations have all combined to leave out more worthy tournament teams than at any point in the past five years.
Many of those problems will hopefully be addressed and modified (it’ll never appease everyone but hopefully more of a majority) in the next two-year block as it relates to scheduling. The power rankings and forfeits, however, still leave folks nauseated.
Mountain Pointe’s girls soccer team, and now, Valley Christian’s girls squad, feel slighted because of the forfeit system, which erases the game from the schedule rather than give a win or loss to the respective teams.
Because of two ties and forfeits by other schools (which Valley Christian believes took away some of its strength of schedule because the forfeited games were as though they never existed), the Trojans wound up No. 17 in the Div. III power rankings at 8-3-2, and out of the state tournament.
The night after being left out of the tournament, Trojans coach Dean Sale fired off an e-mail to a couple media outlets and the AIA.
“It is very sad that I must explain to my team that forfeiting, quitting, not finishing something is a good thing,” he wrote. “...When mistakes are made the first thing we need to do is own up to them and fix them, not sometime down the road, but immediately. Our students are learning a core principle that giving less than your all is ok. I teach my student athletes to give 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time and that you must finish what you start. Being rewarded for quitting or forfeiting does neither.”
“Am I upset by the end result? Of course, and I am sure there are other schools that feel the same way. I, like every coach in the state want what is best for our kids and our sport, and we want to compete against the best. I also know had one or more games ended up different I would have been in and there would have been another coach looking at what I am looking at. We should have fixed this broken system before it ended up this way.”
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.