Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Nov. 18, 2015 — The newest wrinkle in choosing a champion

It’s only about four miles from the field hockey team with the best record in the California Insterscholastic Federation’s San Diego Section — San Diego Serra (Calif.) — to the No. 1 seed in the 2015 CIF San Diego Section Division 2 championship, San Diego Patrick Henry (Calif.).

No. 1 seed? What’s going on here? Serra is the defending Division 2 champion and has just one loss all season.

Well, a few years ago, a proposal was made to the Board of Managers of the San Diego Section. The proposal was to split up most sports into two postseason divisions using data from the national website MaxPreps, rather than base it on enrollment.

A further proposal was to put the top eight teams, using historical ranking data from the past five years, into a so-called “Open Division,” playing them off towards a third championship. The eight teams in the Open Division wouldn’t be invited or self-select in, but would be chosen solely by data.

Regardless of who was in the Open Division, the league format wouldn’t change. Too, a team could have a subpar season and still be guaranteed at least an eighth seed in the Open Division because of data from previous seasons.

Such was the situation when Fallbrook (Calif.) Union made this year’s Open bracket with a record of 11-12-1. The record was only a handful of goals away from winning as many games as their contemporaries in Open, but instead they had to play top-seeded Serra in the tournament opener.

That was because of Fallbrook’s last loss against Oceanside Mission Vista (Calif.). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, discussions between the CIF San Diego Section and the school led to the admission that “not every effort was made to win” the game.

If Fallbrook Union had lost its last game of the season, the Warriors would have been the No. 2 seed in the Division I tournament instead of the No. 8 seed in the Open Division. According to the Union-Tribune, Fallbrook made the admission, was placed in the Open Division, and its head coach was suspended for at least yesterday’s opening-round loss to Serra.

But even though there may be some muttering amongst some in the San Diego-area field hockey community about the concept of cherry-picking the top teams for an elite-division knockout tournament, there are a number of schools who have never won a sectional title that suddenly find themselves a few games away from doing so.

For this, the CIF San Diego Section should be applauded. I think it should give other governing bodies an idea how to run a postseason championship, especially if there is a coterie of teams which always show up year after year in the last eight of a state tournament.


1 Comment»

  Raven Dad wrote @

Agreed–After Serra had won roughly 20 out of 25 seasons in Division II, it was well past time for them to play in the most competitive group. Shame on them for not self-selecting for DI years ago (as Coronado had for lacrosse)…

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