The level of competition this year in girls’ soccer in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division has been close. So close in fact that all four games in today’s regular-season finale will have postseason implications.
Any one of four teams can still win the division, or at least a share of the title, and two others are battling for the chance to earn an at-large bid into the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“PAL Bay is the best division in CCS,” Aragon coach Will Colglazier said Tuesday after his Dons had dispatched Hillsdale 3-0. “To not have the top three decided by the last game of the season is very rare. From one through eight you can’t overlook anyone in this league.”
A fact not lost on Woodside, who started Tuesday in a three-way tie with San Mateo and Burlingame for first place and ended it in fourth place after a 1-0 loss to Menlo-Atherton. The Wildcats now need a win over Burlingame today, one point ahead of Woodside in third place, a loss by San Mateo to Carlmont and nothing better than a tie by second-place Aragon against Terra Nova just to grab a share of the division title.
An Aragon win coupled with a San Mateo loss or tie gives the Dons the outright title, while Burlingame needs a win, nothing better than an Aragon tie and a loss by San Mateo to grab the title.
“We shot ourselves in the foot last week when we tied with Carlmont,” Colglazier said of his Dons, who opened the league season with a 0-2-2 start but have gone 8-0-1 since. “We just need to make sure we’re playing good soccer from here on.”
Only San Mateo takes the pitch today controlling its own destiny as a win by the Bearcats clinches the title outright regardless of how the other three games play out.
San Mateo co-coach Orphan Muratoglu hadn’t heard about Woodside’s upset loss when he joked that his team was hoping everyone else would tie today’s games.
“That would be great,” Muratoglu quipped. “But we just need to go out and win.”
The PAL Bay gets three automatic bids into the CCS playoffs, and in all likelihood whichever team finishes fourth will draw an at-large berth. So today’s games, for the top four teams, are not play-in games.
But for fifth-place Carlmont and sixth-place Menlo-Atherton, today will be their unofficial playoff opener as the PAL Bay could draw a second at-large berth. Carlmont faces the tougher task, facing the league’s top team in San Mateo while the Bears draw last-place Hillsdale. A Menlo-Atherton win coupled with a Carlmont loss would be enough to push the Bears past the Knights into fifth.
“We’re just fighting for fifth and hoping for an at-large berth,” said Bears coach Paul Snow.