Provincial playdowns take place for the U142A girls in the Harbour East District on August 8th and 10th, and this year the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Dartmouth United and Cole Harbour will play each other in a two game total goal matchup. What’s unique about this particular playdown is that Harbour East Distict has been awarded the right to host provincials this season. So here’s where things get murky.
Generally, the format for tournament seeding across all sports is to have a qualifying team from each district, plus a host team. This was especially easy for Soccer Nova Scotia when all 7 districts had representation. The provincial tournament has traditionally been a tidy 8 team format, with the seven district reps and a host.
When the Harbour East District was chosen as 2016 host, it would then have been safe to assume with only two teams registered in the district, both of them would be going to provincials by default: one as host, and one as district representative.
However, Soccer Nova Scotia has struggled in recent years with declining enrolment to the point where it’s become difficult to balance the integrity of the provincial tournament with having fair representation. As a result, last season saw 4 districts represented by 9 teams and the provincial championships were reduced from 8 teams to a 6 team format.
For U14 2A girls in Nova Scotia this season there were only 8 total teams registered within 4 districts, prompting the number of teams qualifying for provincials to be dropped down again, this time to 4, so just ONE team from each district.
I’ve been told by someone from Soccer Nova Scotia that even though the season schedule starts in early June, the actual deadline to register a team is not until June 30th, so this 4 team format was only recently decided based on the number of teams registered by the deadline.
Dartmouth United has been doing all the prep work under the assumption it was the host club. Cole Harbour has been playing their season with a development based format under the assumption it was automatically qualified.
But when the number of provincial qualifying teams was reduced, the Soccer Nova Scotia Policy of allowing all teams within a district to have a chance at acquiring the right to that single district spot still had to be enforced.
Under the bi-law, it is up to the district itself to determine the process for how it’s representative is chosen. Since Dartmouth United was assumed to be the “host team”, Cole Harbour was originally told they were out of luck. But that would have meant Cole Harbour went into the season with zero chance of ever earning a provincial spot which is clearly against SNS policy, and it was reiterated by my SNS source that the District at large is considered the host, not necessarily a particular team. This is confirmed on the SNS website where the host is listed simply as “Harbour East”.
With Dartmouth United well ahead in the current standings, that could also have been a way to select the “best” team from the district, but since neither team was aware standings would be a deciding factor going into the season, they didn’t prepare and act out their seasons with that in mind.
There is a solution laid out in the Soccer Nova Scotia Competiton Handbook. The standard format of having one rep from each district AND a host could be maintained here to create a 5 team provincial tournament. The 5 team tournament tree and instructions for carrying out a 5 team competition are also in the Handbook. However, the statement I got was that if there are only 4 districts with representation AND 8 total teams or less, the provincials automatically become a 4 team
So with that, the method agreed to by both Harbour East teams is to have a two game showdown to decide it all.
That’s the situation heading into this Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:00pm. Both games will take place at Ecole De Bois Jolie.
One district. One team left standing. The winner gets to represent Harbour East at provincials, and host the entire competition in one fell swoop.