It’s no secret why the Wyoming Valley Conference boys soccer league realigned for the 2014 season.
After some controversy at last season’s district seeding meeting, the WVC coaches voted by majority to dump the power alignment it has used in the past and adopt a foundation where teams are now in divisions according to classifications.
Several other sports in the district use the classification format, but in years past with separation in boys soccer being by a large volume, the power alignment has been used for the last several years.
Now, instead of the more dominant teams playing in Division I and only playing the top teams in the conference, most of those squads are now in Division II and will play everyone once. That means, perennial powers like Coughlin and Dallas will now face teams that have struggled in the past and were previously in Division III, which could lead to some ugly scores this season.
“It wasn’t madness,” said Coughlin coach Rob Havard. “There were some teams that were looking for the realignment and some teams that weren’t.
“It’s not the ideal situation, but what it does do it makes district seeding very simple. It pretty much says the top five teams are all playing the same schedule and they all go. …Nobody can say I’m getting the short end of the stick.’ Everyone is playing an identical schedule. It’s all black and white.”
Around Division I
The league’s new setup consists of just three teams in top division as all three Class 3A squads, Hazleton Area, Pittston Area and Wyoming Valley West, will battle each other in a 14-game schedule where the will also take on every Division II team as well.
The Spartans look like the favorite here as the Patriots and Cougars should benefit some from the scheduling and are promising, but may be too young to knock off the experienced Spartans.
Around Division II
When the season started last year, not many folks outside of Tunkhannock predicted the Tigers as being the District 2 Class 2A champion.
That could mean there’s another team coming out on top after not being a favorite beginning this season. But that team would have to get past the defending champs and a loaded Coughlin squad. Even though Dallas graduated a plethora from an exceptional four-year run, the Chris Scharff’s squad can never be discounted and is always in contention.
Crestwood – which knocked the Crusaders out of the tournament last year in the first round – Lake-Lehman, Nanticoke and Wyoming Area are all contenders this season as well. With a few bounces here or there, those four teams could easily be sitting near the top of the standings come the end of October.
Around Division III
Only four teams make up the conference’s Class A division with Holy Redeemer, Meyers, MMI and Wyoming Seminary.
The upperhand has to go to the Blue Knights, who finished second to Tunkhannock in Division II last season and may even be the favorite in the district with Mountain View’s enormous appearing to be at the end.
Scheduling for the DIII teams is similar to Division I as each will face divisional opponents twice and play everyone in Division II once making up a 16-game slate.
Three new coaches take over programs this season with the most notable being Matt Lukachinsky becoming the head coach at Hanover Area replacing Jeff Nealon. Lukachinsky, who is the Hawkeyes all-time leading scorer with 71 goals, 29 assists and 171 point graduating in 2011.
The new coach at Holy Redeemer is Mike Sokolas, who takes the helm of a program that was the center of controversy last season when Sal Leggio quit midseason.
At Berwick, Robert Bond replaces Janet Henger as the program’s new head coach.
This “N” that
•According to Havard, his home field, the Bog was widened by 15 yards this year so the area is no longer the smallest field in the conference.
•Tunkhannock coach Mark Stroney spent time this summer in Brazil watching the World Cup. It was the fifth time, he’s been at the World Cup.
•Nanticoke coach Mark Matusek is back for his 26th season at the helm. He’s the coach with the most year under his belt. Stroney is next with 22 seasons, while Dallas’ Chris Scharff follows, now in his 17th season.