NWAC Soccer Playoffs Rapidly Approaching
Many exciting matchups are taking place around the Northwest today. Here is the playoff picture for men and women's soccer as we enter the final week of action.
Defending NWAC Champs, Peninsula have clinched the North region championship for the second year in a row, but they are no stranger to regional titles. Before the North, the Pirates were in the West region and there they won or shared the title every year since 2009. Peninsula will get a first round playoff bye and await the winner of West #2 and East #3. Whatcom and Edmonds have both clinched playoff spots but 2nd place is still up for grabs. Whatcom has a 3 point lead with two games remaining, but Edmonds holds the head to head tie breaker should the two teams end the season with the same number of points. To make things more complicated, both teams have Peninsula left on the schedule.
Spokane is currently riding a 5 game win streak and the 2015 runners up have clinched the East for the second straight season. Spokane has two games left this week playing North Idaho and Walla Walla, both teams fighting for the #2 and #3 playoff spots. North Idaho and Walla Walla are tied with 20 points but neither are guaranteed to make the playoffs just yet. Wenatchee Valley has 16 points with TVC and NIC left on the schedule and Columbia Basin can still earn 6 points and possibly tie NIC and WWCC with WWCC and TVC left on the schedule.
Highline has clinched the West Region Title for the 3rd straight year and have remained the #2 ranked team all season. The Thunderbirds will play the winner of North #2 and South #3, but will surely not overlook the last game of the season against rival Tacoma who has locked the #2 seed in the west. Tacoma will host the #3 team in the East in the first round of the playoffs. Pierce clinched the last playoff spot on Monday with a win over Bellevue. They will use the final two games of the season to prepare for their first round road matchup against East #3; likely to be either North Idaho or Walla Walla.
This has been the wildest and wackiest of the 4 regions. With just two games left on the schedule, Portland and Chemeketa are tied with 28 points. Chemeketa holds the head to head tiebreaker over PCC, but the two teams play each this Wednesday. The winner has the inside track to the South Region, Title, but the loser could be over-taken by Clark (25pts) for the second seed if the Penguins can win their final two matches. Clark holds the tiebreaker over Chemeketa, but Portland holds the tiebreaker over Clark, which means Clark could still potentially claim the South Region Title if Portland goes 0-2 and Chemeketa goes 1-1.
Peninsula has ran the table in the North to this point going 13-0 with Whatcom and Edmonds left on the schedule. Similar to the men, the women have won their 2nd North Region Title in a row and before the North, won or shared the West Region Title 4 years in a row (2011-2014). Peninsula will get a 1st round bye in the playoffs and will host the winner of West #2 and East #3. There is a close race between Whatcom (23 pts), Shoreline (22 pts), and Everett (21 pts), but the three teams are vying for just two remaining playoff spots in the North. The good news is that all of these teams control their own destiny, with Shoreline vs Everett and Whatcom vs Peninsula on Wednesday. The results will set up a showdown Saturday for the remaining two playoff spots with Whatcom vs Shoreline and Everett vs Skagit Valley.
The three qualifying playoff teams have been decided, but the top two seeds are not yet quite determined. Walla Walla (25 pts) is locked into the 3rd spot and will use it’s remaining two games, including the season finale vs Spokane to prepare for their first round playoff visit to West #2. Spokane (34pts) plays North Idaho (32pts) this Wednesday and the winner will likely claim the East Region Title, provided they do not stub their toe in the final game of the season. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw three weeks ago, which would certainly favor Spokane should the outcome be the same in this go around.
Highline (33pts) and Tacoma (30pts) have both clinched a playoff berth as either the #1 or #2 seed from the West. Highline has the three-point advantage and the head to head tie breaker over Tacoma meaning that the Thunderbirds need to win one of the final two games to secure their 3rd straight West Region Title. The final playoff spot will be a battle between Green River (22pts) and Centralia (21pts). Both teams have tough games this Wednesday, Green River vs Tacoma and Centralia vs Highline, but if either team can pull off the upset, they would have the advantage going into Saturdays season finale showdown when Green River travels to Centralia.
The South region will come to a close this weekend with a matchup between the #1 Clark Penguins and the #2 Lane Titans. Even though both teams have clinched their spots this will be a great test for both teams heading into the post season. Clark with their 1st Region Title will host the winner of East #2 and West #3 in the second round while Lane (11 consecutive playoff appearances) will host North #3 in the first round. The remaining South playoff spot will be a close finish between SW Oregon (15pts), Clackamas (13pts) and Rogue (13pts). SWOCC has the two point advantage and will likely secure the final spot if they can get a win over Clackamas on Wednesday.