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February 18, 2009 > NCS seeding called into question

NCS seeding called into question

By Tony Cogley

Sports fans everywhere know that one of the biggest hot-button topics for the last few years has been bowl selection process in college football, affectionately known as the BCS System to critics and sportswriters worldwide. How to fix the ongoing controversy was even a question posed to then Democratic Party Candidate and now President Barack Obama.

If you think that boys high school soccer seeding selection is any less controversial, then you better not ask Hayward High's head Coach, Armando Salinas, about his team's recent #7 seeding in the North Coast Section's (NCS) Class 2A bracket.

"It is done on a blackboard, and the teams and seeds are determined by three individuals who have never seen any of the teams play," says Salinas of the overall selection process.

Hayward, one of four Hayward Area Athletic League (HAAL) teams to make the NCS Championships, finished fourth in their division, just one point behind San Lorenzo, a team they beat and tied during the regular season (a fact that Salinas believes should have bought them a higher seed in the 2A bracket).

Coach Salinas knew the Farmers wouldn't receive an at-large bid for the 3A bracket, the higher of the two, so he said he didn't even attend the selection meeting this year. Citing coaches' bad mouthing other leagues, uninvited players causing disruptions, and lack of time to present a convincing argument for seeding at the meetings, Salinas said "Frankly, I'm happy to be a 2A school this year."

He may have a point there. The 3A bracket features five of the 12 seeds from the East Bay Athletic League (EBAL). Three of them have first round byes and the lowest of which, #9-seeded Monte Vista, still finished 12-8-3 for the season, two more wins than Hayward.

"I know the judges have a difficult job ... is there a better way?" A question that may haunt any sport, at any level, that deals with a panel of individuals, math equations, biases, reputations and naysayers deciding the fate of an entire season of hard work for a team.

In regards to Hayward's first-round opponent, #10-seeded St. Mary's of Albany, Coach Salinas had nothing but good things to say.

"They are a well-coached, very disciplined team and they hold a formation very well," said Salinas. "I look forward to a good, clean, exciting match, with
Hayward hopefully going on to play a strong Acalanes team."

The two sides will battle each other with a chance to advance to the second round on Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 3 p.m. on St. Mary's home field. The winner will take on #2-seeded Acalanes at Acalanes High on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m.

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