Heartiest congratulations go out this morning to the Maine Secondary School Principals Association which has reorganized its post-season tournament pairings to bring field hockey in line with tournament qualificapairings to bring field hockey in line with tournament qualifications for other high school sports teams.
At its spring meeting, the field hockey committee recommended to the Interscholastic Executive Committee that field hockey follow the 50-percent tournament qualifier rule rather than the all-eight rule. The IEC voted to accept the committee recommendation for the 1992 season.
According to MSSPA assistant executive director Larry LaBrie, expressions of concern about the change were made this fall by coaches to members of the field hockey committee, but since the IEC vote had been accepted, the MSSPA implemented the change.
You may recall the MSSPA field hockey committee previously selected its tournament participants based on an all-eight formula: eight teams automatically qualified for tournament play in every class, regardless of the number of the teams in that class.
In other sports, such as soccer, the committees follow the 50-percent rule: 50 percent of the teams qualify for the tournament, regardless of the number of teams in a class. When the class is an odd number, the higher number qualifies.
The all-eight rule, quite frankly, meant that field hockey players had a distinct advantage over girls who play soccer in terms of competing for a regional or state championship. For example, eight field hockey teams in a 10-team class made post-season play, but just five teams in a 10-team class made the soccer tournament.
Figures we compiled for a column on the subject last December showed 48 of 77 field hockey teams qualified for post-season play while just three more (51 of 96) soccer teams qualified.
This year, field hockey follows the 50-percent formula. Except for the state championship, all games will be played at the home field of the higher-seeded teams.
The pairings will work this way for the 13-team Class A West, Class C West and Class A East: In the Oct. 22 and 23 quarterfinal, the No. 1 team will get a bye. No. 4 will host No. 5 in Game 1; No. 2 hosts No. 7 in Game 2; and No. 3 hosts No. 6 in Game 3.
In the Oct. 28 semfinals, the No. 1 team will meet the Game 1 (4/5) winner in Game 4, and the Game 2 (2/7) winner meets the Game 3 (3/6) winner in Game 5. The Game 4 and 5 winners meet for the regional championship Oct. 31.
One quarterfinalist will get a semifinal bye in the 12-team Class B West.
In the Oct. 22 or 23 quarterfinals, No. 1 hosts No. 6 in Game 1; No. 2 hosts No. 5 in Game 2; and No. 3 hosts No. 4 in Game 3.
The Game 1 (1/6) winner gets a bye while the Game 2 (2/5) winner meets the Game 3 (3/4) winner in the Game 4 semifinal Oct. 28. The Oct. 31 regional championship will be between the Game 1 (1/6) winner and the Game 4 winner.
For the 10-team Class B East, five teams qualify with two teams receiving byes at different levels.
The No. 1 team gets a bye in the Oct 22-23 quarterfinals while No. 4 meets No. 5 in Game 1, and No. 2 meets No. 3 in Game 2.
The only semifinal, on Oct. 28, will be between the No. 1 team and the Game 1 (4/5) winner, with the Game 2 (2/3) winner getting a bye. The Oct. 31 regional championship will feature the Game 2 and Game 3 winners.
Eight teams qualify in the 15-member Class C East with the more familiar four-team quarterfinals.
In the Oct. 22 or 23 quarterfinals, the Nos. 1-8 teams meet in Game 1, Nos. 4-5 in Game 2, Nos. 2-7 in Game 3, and Nos. 3-6 in Game 4. In the Oct. 28 semifinals, the Game 1 (1/8) winner meets the Game 2 (4-5) winner in Game 5, and the Game 3 (2/7) winner meets the Game 4 (3/6) winner in Game 6. The Oct. 31 regional championship pits the Game 5 winner against the Game 6 winner.
Bowdoin College is the tentative site for all three state field hockey championships on Nov. 7.
The Class C state championship will begin at 10 a.m. followed by Class B at noon and the Class A contest at 2 p.m.