With the CCS playoffs starting in less than three weeks league races are getting tighter in most leagues, while several teams are fighting for their playoff lives.
WCAL: With five games remaining theres a three way tie atop the WCAL standings amongst Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bellarmine and Mitty. Bellarmine went into last week with a two point lead, and with five minutes to go in their match against senior Jahan Seifollah thought he had kept that five-point lead for the Bells. Serra had other ideas as it scored a last-minute goal to split the points.
Both Sacred Heart Cathedral and Mitty had perfect weeks, both defeating Archbishop Riordan and Valley Christian, respectively. The Fightin' Irish put 14 past Riordan on Saturday while Mitty got goals from Timmy Rast and Noah Robertson to get past a Valley Christian team on Saturday, leaving the Warriors with dwindling playoff hopes.
St. Francis had the toughest week of all, falling to both Bellarmine and St. Ignatius to drop five points off the pace, but still comfortably in a playoff spot. Though the Wildcats are below .500 in league, they still have enough points to qualify for the playoffs, including a return trip to the Open Division.
Two of the biggest games of the week will happen in San Jose on Wednesday as St. Ignatius travels to Bellarmine in a matchup of league leaders Mitty hosts Sacred Heart Cathedral. Previously Bellarmine defeated St. Ignatius 3-1 and Mitty tied Sacred Heart, after winning 3-0 at halftime. Bellarmine and Mitty are in the race for the Open division even if they don't win the WCAL outright, while Sacred Heart Cathedral is looking like it will need to win league to qualify for the open.
BVAL Mt. Hamilton: Despite a comfortable win earlier in the week against Pioneer, Lincoln suffered its first defeat in league play to Santa Teresa 0-1 to throw the BVAL's top division into a little bit of chaos. With the new format an outright winner of the league will be decided by a de-facto championship game match between the winners of the two separate sides of the division.
Lincoln's loss has put Branham right back into the mix only two points the Lions. Branham defeated Pioneer behind goals from Jaeson Gonzalez and Carter Thompson. It is the biggest game of the week for Branham with games against Santa Teresa, leader of one side of the bracket, before facing Lincoln with first place potentially on the line and a chance for Branham to take control of its fate.
Despite a tie and a loss last week Leland still has a good chance to catch Santa Teresa in their side of the division with a potential deciding matchup between the Chargers and Saints on February 10. The new format has had a mixed reception among the coaches in the league, but it does make the league unique.
"I actually really like the new format even though it does introduce a degree of unfairness if one bracket happens to be stronger than the other," said Branham coach Danny Kadah. "Soccer is not a sport meant to be played with just one day of rest and that was going to be our reality if we tried to squeeze a full 14 game league schedule in after the holiday break. Also by separating the groups based on geography it reinforces the significance and intrigue of local rivalries."
Whomever comes out as champion of the BVAL's top division will likely be the only team to qualify the Open division. The BVAL championship match will take place on Tuesday, February 18.
SCVAL De Anza: Despite its first loss of the league season to Homestead by a score of 1-0, Santa Clara still has a five-point lead with four games remaining. Santa Clara will travel to second-place Los Altos on February 7, which could end up being the clincher if the Bruins can take care of business against Mountain View on Wednesday, a team comfortably in the playoff picture despite falling off the league pace.
Santa Clara will continue to rely on junior Tamba Di Mattia with the scoring load. With the big win over Santa Clara last week, Homestead has given its playoff chances a massive boost. The Mustangs are bordering on the minimum of .500 overall by one game, but at the moment look like they will have enough points to qualify if they can get through the next four games without falling below the threshold.
PAL Bay: Carlmont holds a slim one-point lead over Burlingame in PAL's top division with Menlo-Atherton still within grasp by only two points. Carlmont have a balanced scoring attack with both senior Patrik Dufault-Geleziunas and junior Fletcher Smith each with eight goals.
If Carlmont and Burlingame can get through their games this week unscathed, a de-facto championship match could take place on February 12 when Carlmont hosts Burlingame. Besides the top three teams, both Seqouia and South San Francisco are still in contention for playoff spots.
PCAL Gabilan: Watsonville had another perfect week with two wins to keep its lead at six points with four games remaining. Junior Jeal Leal scored both goals in a 2-0 victory over North Salinas for the Wildcatz. Alvarez will have to hope that Watsonville stumbles before their matchup on February 11 if they will want to have any chance of catching their rivals.
*Gunn had its biggest win of the season on Friday night defeating its closest chaser in Wilcox 2-1 to extend its lead to seven points in the SCVAL El Camino Division with only four games remaining.
*Mt. Pleasant and Evergreen Valley are tied atop the BVAL Santa Teresa standings with four games remaining. Mt. Pleasant are lead by junior Ricardo Tovar Herrera with 23 goals in 14 games, including two goals in their 5-2 win over Piedmont Hills last Thursday.
*Del Mar holds a one-point lead over both Gunderson and Live Oak and the Dons will play both teams with their destiny in their own hands. Del Mar is led by junior David Arenas with four goals. Live Oak travels to San Jose to take on Del Mar on Monday night with potentially first place on the line.
*Despite being undefeated Sacred Heart Prep only holds a game lead over Harker in the competitive WBAL, which could potentially send three teams to the CCS playoffs, but it will be a points race. The two top teams tied 3-3 in mid January and will face each other again in the final game of the year on February 12 in Atherton. If the Gators can remain undefeated and win the WBAL they will have a great chance to qualify for the Open Division. If they do they would be the first team from the WBAL to qualify for the CCS top division.
*The competitive SCCAL sees both Harbor and Sequel tied for first place with only two games to go. Soquel holds the advantage head to head with Harbor with a win and a tie. Soquel defeated rival Scotts Valley last week by a score of 1-0 behind junior Luis Carrasco's third goal of the season.
*Despite having one of the CCS best seasons and constantly being ranked within Prep2Prep's top 10 all year, Salinas only finds itself two points above Pajaro Valley in the PCAL Mission Division. Salinas is led by senior Ezequiel Hernandez's seven goals. Hernandez will lead the Cowboys into a first place showdown at Pajaro Valley on February 7.