Benefield: Small-school girls soccer adjusting to schedule headaches
What did Robert Burns say about the best-laid plans? Something about going askew?
The folks who crafted the fall girls soccer schedules for the small schools that make up the North Central League II and III might know a little something about things going askew despite all good intentions.
The fall soccer schedule, ever-thinner as more programs move to winter, was built around the expected addition of one school to bring the total to an even number: 12.
But that was deemed unmanageable for several reasons, not the least of which was scheduling. A league with 10 or 12 opponents would put teams nearly at the limit for number of games per season before even taking into account preseason and postseason play.
“That was a big thing, putting some wiggle room in your schedule so you can go out and pick and choose who you are going to play in your division,” said Scott McKeon, athletic director at Technology High in Rohnert Park.
Well, the teams of the new NCL II and NCL III have a little more wiggle room than expected after both Point Arena and Rincon Valley Christian did not have enough athletes to form an all-girls team, so they instead will field co-ed squads.
So now both the NCL II and NCL III will have unexpected byes on the calendar, unless coaches can fill the gaps.
“Well, it’s part of life,” said Coastal Mountain Commissioner Robert Pinoli.
“We learn to live with things like this,” he said. “All you can do is plan that everybody is going to have teams. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.”
Schools with smaller enrollment numbers can be felled by one injury, or one student-athlete who fails to make grades. An entire team’s season can hang in the balance.
“You don’t know year to year or week to week — or damn near day to day if you have a team,” Pinoli said.
That said, the North Central Leagues are this season divided into NCL II and NCL III, with each division competing for a league title and each league winner earning a berth into the postseason.
NCL II will be comprised of St. Vincent, Credo, Anderson Valley, Tomales and Roseland Collegiate Prep. NCL III will include Technology, Roseland University Prep, Calistoga, Mendocino and Upper Lake.
But to keep things somewhat familiar, squads from the two leagues are scheduled to meet in these early preseason weeks before league play begins Sept. 26.
Even in these early days, the top squads are making their presence known and the Tech High Titans are the team to beat.
They were 5-0 headed into Wednesday night’s contest on the road at Tomales.
The Titans went 18-4 last year and 14-2 in league — stumbling only to champs St. Vincent. In the postseason, Technology — with an enrollment of 326, according to last year’s state records — was felled on the road 6-3 by the Loggers of Eureka, a school with 1,130 in the Division 1 North Coast Section semifinals.
It was a position that befuddled coach Melissa Knoll.
“It didn’t make sense,” she said of the Titans’ Division 1 placement.