Bracket breakdown – D-10 boys soccer
The District 10 soccer playoffs officially begin today with first round action in 2A girls.
The Warren boys quarterfinal game will be played on Monday against Cathedral Prep at a site and time to be determined. Here’s a look at how they stack up, as well as the other classifications.
This Warren team is reminiscent of the one in 2013 a relatively young group that started off slow and got much better as the season went on, ultimately advancing to the D-10 championship game before falling to Harbor Creek and then West Allegheny in the first round of the state playoffs.
Harbor Creek was the favorite that year, and the Dragons were the beneficiary of having the Huskies on the opposite end of the bracket.
That’s not the case this time around, as the Ramblers are widely considered the team to beat. They went 14-1-1 against a typically strong schedule, and have depth and skill at every position.
That being said, this is a Warren team that has championship pedigree and they won’t be intimidated, which probably can’t be said for every team that Prep could have drawn.
So while it’s a tough assignment for the Dragons, Warren probably isn’t the first team Prep would want to play if they were choosing their quarterfinal opponent.
On the bottom half of that side of the bracket, Fort LeBoeuf will meet the winner of Thursday’s contest between Meadville and Saegertown.
None of those teams have played each other this season, but the Bulldogs are probably the slight favorite to advance, where they would be an underdog against Fort LeBoeuf.
On the other side of the bracket, Central will square off with Grove City, while General McLane will await the winner of East and Franklin.
Grove City beat Central 2-0 on Oct. 8 and Franklin 3-2 on Oct. 12.
I like the Lancers on this side of the bracket, however. They have seen both Prep (5-3 loss on Sept. 8) and McDowell (2-1 loss on Sept. 6) as well as splitting a pair of 2-1 games with Warren.
They are battled tested and have the experience from being a D-10 finalist a year ago, knocking off the Dragons in the semifinals, 2-0.
This is a 4-team field with Mercer (12-6) facing Wilmington (6-9) in one semifinal and Iroquois (6-10-1) squaring off with Kennedy Catholic (6-7) in the other.
Mercer is the clear favorite here, going 4-0 against Wilmington and Kennedy Catholic in Region 1 play this year and outscoring them 12-2.
Iroquois comes in with a 4-game losing streak, but has played the toughest schedule of the four (Fairview, Fort LeBoeuf, Mercyhurst Prep, Central, Harbor Creek) and were reasonably competitive in most of those games. They could provide some resistance to Mercer if they get to the final.
The biggest field on the boys side with 12 teams has Fairview, Slippery Rock, Harbor Creek, Mercyhurst Prep and Hickory all as real contenders.
MP comes in winners of 4-straight, including a 3-0 win over Harbor Creek and are led on offense by Niall Sweeney.
Slippery Rock, meanwhile, comes into the playoffs with a 5-game winning streak, including wins over Grove City and Hickory.
Harbor Creek is the defending 2A champion, but I’m not sure they get by Fairview in a potential semifinal matchup. The Tigers own a pair of 1-0 wins over Mercyhurst Prep this season and a 4-0 win over Wilmington.
One other team to watch out for on the other end of the bracket is North East, which could potentially meet Slippery Rock in the semifinals. They have tied and lost to Harbor Creek by one goal this season and historically, the program also has a history of playoff upsets, knocking out a Warren team in the first round in 2011 that came in undefeated and outscored its opponents 161-9 going into that matchup.
They could potentially get in the way of a semifinal matchup between Slippery Rock, who would be their quarterfinal opponent should they beat Sharon, and Mercyhurst Prep.
McDowell will play the District 6 champion in a PIAA play-in game at a site and time to be determined, with the winner advancing to play 7-2 in the first round of the state playoffs.