Oct 25, 2010 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Over the next two weeks, it turns into elimination time in Central New York high school sports.
Whether it’s soccer or field hockey, the circumstances are the same. Two teams meet, and when it’s done, someone sees its season continue, and the other sees its season end. Simple as that.
We learned Sunday what the Section III playoffs will look like, and it’s fascinating. Here’s a not-that-brief synopsis of the tournaments, starting with girls soccer.
Class AA – Baldwinsville is exactly where it was in 2009, sitting as the top seed. That didn’t work out a year ago, thanks to Auburn, and a rematch could happen if the Maroons beat Oswego in the first round. Plus, Liverpool (who scared the Bees twice in a pair of 2-1 games this season) could await in the semifinals. Meanwhile, defending champion CBA sits at no. 2, with what looks like an easier path to the finals – though a possible quarterfinal with no. 7 seed F-M, who tied them earlier this month, could prove quite dangerous.
Class A – J-D is looking to go back-to-back. With Jessica Holmes and the Devereaux sisters running wild, the Red Rams sit as the top seed, likely not to be challenged until the semifinals. A really good 4 vs. 5 quarterfinal pits rivals Cortland and Homer against each other, while no. 2 seed Whitesboro must deal with its own biggest rival, Whitesboro. Camden adds even more Tri-Valley flavor as the no. 3 seed, but they better not look past quarterfinal opponent Chittenango.
Class B – True, reigning champ Watertown IHC is the top seed and defending champ. But how much did the Cavaliers’ Frontier League final loss to city rival Watertown hurt them? And IHC could, in the quarterfinals, meet the same Solvay squad that stunned Marcellus a year ago to open up the bracket for the north country. Meanwhile, the Mustangs, burning to avoid another early exit, drew a no. 2 seed, though it might have to worry about Lowville in the quarterfinals. Ilion, the no. 3 seed, faces a major step up in competition.
Class C- This is, to put it lightly, a lopsided split bracket. Every favorite is in C-1, with Bishop Ludden getting the huge break of the top seed, sending Tully and defending champ Sauquoit Valley, who are a combined 28-1-2, on a semifinal collision course. Cooperstown and Westmoreland aren’t bad, either. Mohawk, at 11-4-1, snatched the no. 1 spot in C-2, though you have to be wary about red-hot Morrisville-Eaton, Fabius-Pompey, Waterville and MPH in a tournament with a little more depth, but no one as highly regarded as the top trio in C-1.
Class D – Many of the usual suspects return here. Remsen used a 15-1 regular season to rise to the no. 1 seed as it seeks to atone for losing the ’09 championship. A semifnal between the Rams and Poland or Cincinnatus looks likely. McGraw, last year’s champs, are the no. 3 seed this time, the Eagles having little to worry about until its semifinal round. The question – could Faith Heritage, who played C teams all year, rise up from its no. 10 seed, surprise DeRuyter and make no. 2 seed Copenhagen worry?
Now a look at the five boys soccer tournaments…
Class AA – It’s all about whether Baldwinsville can four-peat – and whether F-M can end its five-year title drought. The Hornets are the top seed because of its two narrow (1-0, then 2-1) regular-season wins over the no. 2 seed Bees. Whether a third meeting happens depends on the Hornets first shaking off a likely semifinal with fast-improving West Genesee or CBA. It also leans on B’ville getting through a tough bracket where another fast closer, Liverpool, could be the quarterfinal foe and defensive-minded CNS, a very tough no. 3 seed, is likely to await in the semifinals. If the Bees get four straight, it will have really earned it.
Class A – Battle-tested and strong in all phases of the game, 14-2 J-D is a worthy top seed as it goes after a first-ever championship. A season ago, New Hartford prevailed over the Red Rams and rode that momentum all the way to the state finals . The Spartans defend as the no. 2 seed this time around, reversing the ’09 seedings. Even in the you-never-know world of the playoffs, it’s difficult to imagine a rematch for the title, as the rest of the field (even the next two seeds, no. 3 Carthage and no. 4 ESM), struggled to find consistency this fall.
Class B – Not much going on here, just a pair of superb unbeaten teams in Skaneateles and Clinton. Maybe the Lakers had the better regular season by toppling the likes of CNS, West Genesee and CBA, but it would be fun to see that vaunted Skaneateles attack go after Clinton’s equally vaunted defense in the finals. What could prevent it? Maybe fast-closing Westhill, a dangerous no. 5 seed, or the more immediate threats of Mount Markham and South Jefferson. All of them would have to play career games to crack past the big two, though.
Class C – Yes, Westhill beat them at the end, but MPH remains a strong top seed and pronounced favorite to get its first sectional title since 2006. Not that Cooperstown, the reigning champs and no. 2 seed, will surrender its crown quietly, though the Redskins might need to be wary of a possible quarterfinal with Tully. MPH has the easier path, having beaten twice three of the five sides in its half of the 12-team bracket. Only the unfamiliarity with the likes of Thousand Islands (no. 3 seed) and Sauquoit Valley (no. 4) should keep MPH and Coop from feeling confident about a finals showdown.
Class D – It’s getting to the inevitable death-and-taxes part, with Poland and Hamilton poised for a fifth straight playoff encounter in the finals should the no. 1 seed Tornadoes and no. 2 seed Emerald Knights get that far. Yet with 15 teams in this bracket, Hamilton will have to win twice (over Watertown iHC, then Old Forge or Alex Bay) just to reach the semifinal round, and no. 3 seed McGraw isn’t a pushover, either. We saw no. 4 seed Cincinnatus come up with impressive offensive numbers, which make them good for a few rounds, though stopping Poland may be another matter.
Finally, a brief look at field hockey, where all the finals are Nov. 6 at CNS’s Bragman Stadium…
Class A, B: On the A side, Rome Free Academy holds the top seed and must get past CNS or F-M next Tuesday at Morrisville State for a chance to repeat. It will be fun to see if Liverpool can avenge two regular-season losses to B’ville in the other semifinal. Camden is heavily favored to go back-to-back in Class B, as the semifinals pit the Blue Devils agianst VVS (which was the title game each of the last two years) and Cortland against New Hartford.
Class C, D: Cazenovia is seeking out a sixth straight sectional championship, and in a six-team C bracket it may only have no. 2 seed Holland Patent (they’ve played some great games through the years) to worry about. The Lakers will play Mount Markham or Canastota in its semifinal as the Golden Knights prepare for Sauquoit Valley or Ilion. There’s also six teams in Class D, where no. 1 seed M-E could win it again – if it beats Hamilton or Port Byron, then makes it through a final where CSC rival New York Mills, the no. 2 seed, is ready to pounce against Weesdport or Little Falls.