JOSH KAUFMANN, St. Albans Messenger
With two days left in the regular season , a few local teams will be fighting for their playoff lives tonight and tomorrow. BFA-St. Albans football and Missisquoi boys soccer are both right on the edge going into their final games, while other teams are hoping to lock up a home playoff game or two.
The Bobwhites (3-4) are ranked seventh in Division I going into tonight’s home game against Champlain Valley (3-4). A BFA win would clinch at least No. 7, with a move up to No. 6 if Rutland (4-3) defeats Hartford (3-4). The sixth seed will visit Essex (5-2), and No. 7 will likely travel to St. Johnsbury (7-0). A CVU win tonight would leave BFA needing Colchester (5-2) to beat Mt. Mansfield (2-5) to remain in the playoff field.
In Division III football, BFA-Fairfax (6-1) will finish second regardless of tonight’s outcome in Winooski (2-5), unless No. 10 Oxbow (2-5) stuns league-leading Otter Valley (5-1) Saturday. Milton retains a slim shot at getting into the D-II field, but would have to knock off the top two teams — at 6-0 Burr & Burton tonight and at 6-1 Rice on Oct. 26.
In boys soccer, Wednesday’s victory over Vergennes lifted Missisquoi (2-11) into playoff position, ranked 15th in D-I going into Saturday night’s finale at Milton. The Thunderbirds would clinch a playoff spot and could move as high as 13th with a win, and would also be in with a tie. A loss to the Yellowjackets, who have wrapped up a top-four seed in D-II, would leave MVU needing two teams out of Lyndon, North Country, Middlebury and Rutland to lose their last game. NC faces the toughest finale, taking on No. 1 South Burlington after the Rebels were authorized to resume competition during the school district’s teachers’ strike. Lyndon, Middlebury and Rutland all play reasonably winnable games. The Red Raiders would only tie MVU with a win, but would get the playoff spot based on their tougher schedule.
Milton will finish 4th in Division II regardless of Saturday’s result against Missisquoi, and would be at home for the first two rounds of the boys soccer tournament. Enosburg’s D-II seed is also set, with the Hornets locked in to No. 7 and a first-round home game, probably against Vergennes or Mt. Abraham.
BFA-Fairfax will have the best seed among local teams, assured of no worse than third. The Bullets, who finish up at Richford on Saturday morning, could still finish 1st or 2nd in Division III if Lake Region (11-2) loses to Hazen (6-6-1) and/or Stowe (10-3) loses to Randolph (5-8). Richford goes into the Fairfax game needing Winooski (6-7) to beat Oxbow (2-11) to remain 16th, unless the Falcons somehow shock Fairfax.
In Division I, BFA-St. Albans has clinched a to-eight seed and a first round game. The Bobwhites (8-5-1) will finish 8th unless Division IV Whitcomb upsets 8-4-1 St. Johnsbury in a final-game mismatch.
Among local girls soccer teams, only BFA-St. Albans is assured of a home first-round game. If the Comets (8-4-1) beat No. 4 Burlington (10-3) today and undefeated CVU avoids an upset by Mt. Mansfield (8-4-1), BFA would move up to 7th. A loss or tie to BHS or an MMU upset or tie would leave St. Albans 8th. Either scenario would probably mean a home first-round game against Rice, Mt. Anthony or Brattleboro. The No. 8 seed might lead to a more-winnable quarterfinal and a longer trip; Burr & Burton has matched CVU’s 13-0 record and will finish first with a win, but has played a significantly weaker schedule. Missisquoi, despite its big Senior Day win over Vergennes, will not qualify for the tournament unless someone drops out.
In Division II, Milton has finished its schedule in seventh place, but could be bumped to 9th if Mill River and Green Mountain Valley both win another game. One loss by those two teams would knock Milton to eighth and a home game against the other, while at No. 7 the Yellowjackets would likely open against Montpelier (5-5-2).
All three local D-III girls teams will make the playoffs, but none will get into the top eight for a home opener. Enosburg would take No. 9 with a win over D-IV Danville today and a win by D-II power Lake Region over 7-6 Hazen. In that scenario, the Hornets would open t he playoffs at No. 8 Stowe (7-6) or Peoples Academy (7-5-1). BFA-Fairfax (5-6-3) and Richford (5-7-2) have finished their schedules. BFA would move up to 10th with an Enosburg loss to Danville; otherwise will get the 11 or 12 seed. The Rockets will finish 12th or 13th. Windsor, Thetford, Leland & Gray, Peoples and Stowe are all potential foes for Fairfax and Richford in the first round.
The region’s two field hockey teams could meet for a third time in a playdown game, depending on Missisquoi’s Senior Day game against Montpelier this afternoon. An MVU win could lift the T-Birds (2-11) past Fair Haven (1-11) and Montpelier (2-9-1) and into sixth, which would mean a first-round bye and a quarterfinal trip to Stowe (7-5) or St. Johnsbury (7-6). A Missisquoi loss to Montpelier would leave MVU 8th and host for a playdown against No. 9 Milton (1-12). A tie against Montpelier would leave the Thunderbirds 7th or 8th, depending on Fair Haven’s final game.
NOTE: All records and ranks based on unofficial standings posted at vpaonline.org.