With RPI, league title can't secure first-round bye for Fountain Valley in 2A girls' soccer playoffs

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Photo - TCA TAKES AIR ACADEMY

TCA junior Alison Smith (5) scores a goal past Air Academy sophomore Liza Louthan (10) in the second half. 

Photos by Isaiah J. Downing
TCA TAKES AIR ACADEMY TCA junior Alison Smith (5) scores a goal past Air Academy sophomore Liza Louthan (10) in the second half. Photos by Isaiah J. Downing

Last year, a league title paved the way for Fountain Valley to receive a bye and a second-round home game in the 3A girls' soccer playoffs. That was before the Ratings Percentage Index ruled the land.

On Sunday, the Danes learned their 2A league title wasn't good enough to get a few extra days of rest, thanks to the new system that arguably awards style points for tough schedules but not necessarily for winning games.

"We're disappointed we're not in the top four, but we'll deal with the hand we're dealt," said Fountain Valley coach Byron Dacy, whose fifth-seeded Danes (10-5) host No. 12 Heritage Christian (7-7) on Tuesday. "I don't see why where you finish in your league matters. We were ahead of (No. 4) ECA (8-5-1) and beat them head-to-head, but the RPI doesn't put as much weight on your own win-loss record and doesn't take into account your own body of work."

Playoff brackets for the four classes of girls' soccer - 32 teams in 5A and 4A, 24 in 3A and 12 in 2A - were released Sunday, with the RPI for the first time dictating postseason placement based on a computerized formula of a team's winning percentage, their opponents' winning percentage, and opponents' opponents' winning percentage.

The results are taken to the sixth decimal point. In Fountain Valley's case, the Danes had a decidedly better winning percentage than Evangelical Christian Academy (.667 to .607) but fell behind in the two categories they had no control over, with ECA (RPI of .530) snagging the final first-round bye ahead of Fountain Valley (.528).

Strangely enough, the teams could meet again. If the Danes handle Heritage Christian on Tuesday, they'll meet ECA on the Eagles' home field Friday in the quarterfinals.

Even ECA coach Drew Morton was baffled, yet relieved, after Sunday's rankings were revealed.

"I felt Fountain Valley would rank higher than us," Morton said. "I didn't think we'd get a first-round bye, but we'll take that and the extra time. I wouldn't have cried over a little lower seeding and having a game to play, but this way, we can pick a team to scrimmage and take the time to get ready. We're pretty familiar with Fountain Valley. We'll be glad to play them on our own turf this time."

Once again, the Pikes Peak region earned plenty of spots in the soccer playoffs. Colorado Springs Metro League 5A tri-champs Pine Creek (No. 14), Rampart (26) and Doherty (32) all earned berths, and the 4A/5A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference got five of its teams in, with defending 4A state champ Lewis-Palmer (3) leading the way and earning a home match Wednesday, as did Cheyenne Mountain (11) and Air Academy (12).

The Classical Academy ran away with the 4A Colorado Springs Metro League title and earned a fifth seed in the 4A playoffs.

In 3A, Manitou Springs (3) and Colorado Springs Christian School (8) earned home sites for first- and second-round play this weekend.

And CSCS earned that prestigious top-eight seeding despite coming up short in its league to Manitou. The Lions edged Highlands Ranch-based SkyView Academy by .003 points in the final RPI standings.

"Right now, the thing to do is to play a super tough schedule and get beat by a lot of good teams," Dacy said. "If they can change it, and put more weight on what you do as a team, that'll even it out. Then, it will be more of a true calling of what the RPI should be."