Less than a week ago – as of my previous update – there were 18 teams vying for 9 playoff spots, and pretty much nothing had been decided. But we’ve very quickly gotten down to 8 teams vying for 4 playoff spots.
And there’s been some excitement along the way. On Wednesday the Toronto Lady Lynx were the final undefeated team to fall, their record dropping to 4-1-4 as they lost to K-W United FC, 2-1. On their east coast road trip, the Dayton Dutch Lions played the Charlotte Lady Eagles to a scoreless tie, then beat the once-fearsome Atlanta Silverbacks, 3-2. The result clinched first place in the conference for Dayton. And the defending champion Ottawa Fury were upset by the Quebec City Amiral, 1-0.
The Virginia Beach Piranhas continued their league-leading ways by traveling north to beat the Long Island Rough Riders, 2-0, and the New York Magic, 3-0, on consecutive days. With the Washington Spirit Reserves beating the New Jersey Wildcats, 2-1, both the Piranhas and Reserves clinched playoff spots.
Out west, the Seattle Sounders got by the Santa Clarita Blue Heat, while the Pali Blues almost fell for the third time this season, needing a goal in second-half stoppage time to tie the Bay Area Breeze, 2-2.
So here’s where we stand now:
IN: Laval Comets, Ottawa Fury
OUT: Quebec City Amiral, London Gryphons
IN PLAY: Toronto Lady Lynx, K-W United FC
Would you believe that the Ottawa Fury aren’t even in first place in the conference? I have no idea the last time that’s happened. And it’s not that Laval has played any more games – they’ve both played 10. But they do go head-to-head on Wednesday, so the defending champions have a chance to catch up.
Toronto has 17 standings points to K-W’s 14 with both teams having two games to play. Toronto needs a win and a tie to clinch, while K-W needs to win both their games and Toronto to lose at least one. But that seems likely since the Lady Lynx end their season at Ottawa, though K-W also has to beat the Comets. This one could come down to the wire.
IN: Virginia Beach Piranhas, Washington Spirit Reserves
OUT: Long Island Rough Riders, Fredericksburg Impact, New York Magic, New Jersey Wildcats, North Jersey Valkyries
Not much suspense left here. The Piranhas have a six-point lead, but the Spirit have a game in hand. Plus they play each other next Saturday. Washington needs to beat Fredericksburg on Wednesday and then Virginia Beach to finish first and gain the right to host the playoff match at the Maryland Soccerplex. Anything less, and the Piranhas host at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. So it’s Washington vs. Virginia Beach at some ‘plex or other, the only matter unsettled is which one.
IN: Dayton Dutch Lions
OUT: VSI Tampa Bay FC
IN PLAY: Charlotte Lady Eagles, Carolina Elite Cobras, Atlanta Silverbacks
How about those Dutch Lions? Winless last year, they’ve won the season series with both of the region’s traditional powerhouses, Charlotte and Atlanta. They’ve also claimed first place in the conference, so the championship will take place in Dayton. Meanwhile, Charlotte hosts Carolina on Saturday, and the winner earns second place and the right to play Dayton. And what about Atlanta? Well, they need to draw an inside straight. Maybe several inside straights. They need to beat VSI Tampa Bay on Friday, hope the Lady Eagles and the Cobras tie, and then hope that the three-way tiebreaker that results ends in their favor. (They may actually be eliminated already; I just haven’t figured out the tiebreaker.)
OUT: Colorado Rapids Women, Bay Area Breeze, Santa Clarita Blue Heat, Colorado Rush
IN PLAY: Pali Blues, Seattle Sounders Women, LA Strikers
The Blues and the Sounders are tied atop the conference, though Pali has the better head-to-head record and would win a tiebreaker. Meanwhile, the Strikers – who have beaten the Blues twice this season – are five points behind with a game in hand. Pali hosts Santa Clarita and Seattle plays at Bay Area on Sunday, while LA goes off to Colorado to play the Rapids Women on Thursday and the Rush on Sunday. LA needs to win out just to stay in contention – anything less and Pali and Seattle are in. If LA does win out, the Blues need to win because they’d lose the tiebreaker to the Strikers on a tie and lose out to them on points with a loss. By contrast, the Sounders need only tie to clinch.
Win – 1st place in conference.
Tie – If LA wins out and Seattle wins, eliminated from playoffs. If one or the other, second. If neither, first.
Loss – If LA wins out and Seattle ties or wins, eliminated from playoffs. If one or the other, second. If neither, first.
Win – Clinch playoff spot, 1st if Pali ties or loses, 2nd otherwise.
Tie – Clinch playoff spot, 1st if Pali loses, 2nd otherwise.
Loss – If LA wins out, eliminated from playoffs. Otherwise 2nd.
Win out – 1st if Pali and Seattle both lose, 2nd if Pali ties or loses or Seattle loses, eliminated otherwise.
Anything else – Eliminated.