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Faulkner: Pirates' soccer in a fix

Colleges

November 14, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

The Orange Coast College men's soccer team can do itself a big favor by winning its Orange Empire Conference and regular-season finale at Norco on Friday.

The Pirates, just like the OCC women's team, has been put in a bit of a pickle due to a unique soccer playoff pairings system that evaluates teams on the basis of something known as power points.

The points system, somewhat similar to Ratings Percentage Index for NCAA schools, gives a value to every game played by every team in the state. Based on those points, the teams are admitted to the 16-team Southern California Regional playoffs.

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Conference champions earn automatic berths, but their seeding is contingent on their power-point ranking.

So the OCC men, who enter Friday two points ahead of second-place Santa Ana (the conference awards three points for a win and one for a tie) will at least make the field if they can beat Norco. A tie at Norco would give OCC at least a share of the OEC crown, but even that might put the Pirates in peril.

The trouble is that due to the program-wide probation incurred by what were deemed extra practice sessions, all OCC programs except football were required to eliminate one contest from their schedule.

Under bylaws specific to soccer (created to prevent coaches from dropping late-season nonconference games to maximize power-point rankings), any contest originally on the schedule that is dropped must count as a forfeit for the school that drops the contest.

With the power-point system, a forfeit produces zero points, while a loss in a match that is actually played gives the losing school one point. Further, the contest counts in the formula by which teams add the total games played to their power-point total, then divide by the number of contests played.

So, a team that plays a 20-game schedule adds 20 points to its total and divides by 20. OCC, however, may add only 19 points, then divide by 20. So, its power-point ranking takes a small hit.

According to incomplete power-point rankings listed on the California Community College Soccer News website, OCC, which would lose a potential tiebreaker with Santa Ana, is No. 17 in Southern California. Since its power-point ranking was adversely affected by its sanction-induced game taken away on the schedule counting as a forfeit, without being credited as a "contest" under the soccer bylaws, OCC could be left out of the playoffs it should have otherwise made.

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