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Stephen F. Austin Soccer

SLC Soccer Coaches: More tournament teams, no bye for top seeds

December 15, 2016

Remember that time that the best soccer team in the Southland Conference represented the thirteen member-institutions in the NCAA Tournament?

It's been awhile. Actually, it's only happened four times ever in the 19 seasons since the Southland Conference first started sponsoring soccer.

Unfortunately, when a couple teams have hogged all the regular season championships over the past six seasons (SFA in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, UCA in 2016), the voting majority consists of coaches who have never won a title over the lengthy part of the season.
SFA Athletics The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks battle the Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions in the 2015 Southland Conference Tournament.

Some would argue that the logic of even having a conference tournament in a one-bid league like the Southland is flawed. At the end of the day, it is simply a mechanism that typically prevents the best team from representing the league in NCAA play.

But if you were hoping that coaches finally agreed the conference needs to value the regular season more, you'll be disappointed. In fact, they've taken it the opposite direction.

In a vote last week, Southland Conference coaches recommended that, with recent postseason eligibility of Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian, the tournament field should be expanded from its current six teams to eight. In addition, the coaches recommended that the first-round bye previously enjoyed by the top two seeds be eliminated.

This essentially means that aside from seed-based tournament brackets, the regular season result will mean literally nothing in postseason play. The fast-paced nature of the SLC tournament has already proven over history to rarely favor the best team, even when they had one-fewer game to play.

It's unfortunate for a league that has had some excellent soccer teams the last few seasons capable of making noise in the NCAA Tournament. They rarely get that opportunity and it isn't unlikely that we will see the trend continue if these recommendations are enacted.

A final decision still pending approval by the Southland Conference advisory council. If passed, it will go into effect this coming season.

SLC Soccer Coaches: More tournament teams, no bye for top seeds

5,426 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 7 yr ago by nacluth
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Ridiculous and frustrating!!
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Indeed. My father-in-law has photographed several postseason tournaments (other sports), but he says the Conference employees always want the regular season winner to win the tournaments. They know that the best way for the Southland to get respect is for other big name teams to play our best team. So often these pressure cooker one off tourney games allow a weak team to pass by a stronger team.

I'm sure the argument will always be made that if the top team can't finish in the SLC tourney than they don't have "what it takes." But I've always thought that if your conference tournament is the ticket to the biggest postseason tournaments, the long regular season is where that ticket should be punched.
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