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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2007
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Tiebreaker rule keeps W. Morgan at home
Priceville soccer makes playoffs

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

The clearing up of a misunderstanding between the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Class 1A-4A, Section 5 boys soccer coordinator put one local team in the playoffs and knocked another out Tuesday afternoon.

As a result of the explanation, Priceville's boys are in the playoffs and West Morgan, which celebrated what it believed was its first-ever playoff berth Monday night, is now out.

The misunderstanding involved the proper procedure in breaking a three-way tie.

West Morgan, Priceville and St. Bernard each finished section play at 6-4. West Morgan beat St. Bernard 4-1 and 4-2 this season, Priceville swept West Morgan 3-0 and 2-1, and St. Bernard took out Priceville 2-1 and 2-1. "They were thinking you just count the wins and not the losses," said Alan Mitchell, an assistant director with the AHSAA. "But our directions in our spring book clearly say all the matches played between those teams. It's a goal differential between the other tied teams."

According to the AHSAA rulebook, a three-way tie in soccer will be broken by rule i, which states "goal differential against all other tied teams in the regular season section matches (up to a three-goal differential per match)."

But West Morgan head coach Glenn Bryant said he was told differently. Nearly a week ago, Bryant questioned Ken Barfield, the section 5 coordinator and principal at Mars Hill Bible.

Unsure of how to break the tiebreaker and unable to decipher the rule from the AHSAA rulebook, Barfield called AHSAA assistant director Greg Brewer, Bryant said. According to Bryant, Barfield told him that only wins between the teams would count, giving a one-goal advantage over Priceville because of three-goal and two-goal wins over St. Bernard compared to three-goal and one-goal wins for Priceville over West Morgan.

However, when all games are taken into account, Priceville is the team with a one-goal advantage with a plus-two differential compared to the Rebels' plus-one finish.

And now West Morgan is out of the playoffs, despite beating St. Bernard by the two goals Bryant believed his team needed to reach the playoffs.

"There were high-fives all around," Bryant said, the frustration in the situation audibly building with each word spoken.

"Kids showed up (Monday) because they knew it was on the line, kids I'd never seen before. All of it was good. Good for our school. Good for our community. Kids were excited."

Bryant added, "These kids didn't have to, but they stuck with soccer, and they play hard. I'm not easy on them."

Barfield was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

West Morgan's players were understandably let down Tuesday when word spread that the playoffs would have to wait at least another year.

"We were all just really mad," West Morgan junior forward Jared Spooner said.

"We're pretty angry about the whole thing. We were all excited."

Nevertheless, as tough as it is on West Morgan, Priceville is in the playoffs and will travel to Collinsville on Tuesday.

Bulldogs' head coach Tommy Arbet was certain of his team's postseason bid from the outset.

"We felt confident that there was some kind of discrepancy there," Arbet said.

Nevertheless, Arbet feels badly for West Morgan.

"That's a shame because I know West Morgan was excited over their win (Monday night against St. Bernard)," Arbet said.

"I know there's been a lot of discussion that it needs to be clarified what the goal differential is."

No matter what happened, though, Mitchell said the outcome is that the Bulldogs earned the runner-up spot the right way.

"We regret the misunderstanding, the incorrect way to figure it," Mitchell said. "But miscommunications happen and errors are made like that. We're all human.

"We're just doing it like we've always done, and that's the key thing, to get it right after any miscommunication and misunderstanding."

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