This is the fifth in a series of articles exploring the impact of a potential expansion within the PSAC to include the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and Seton Hill University in Greensburg following reports that the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will be splitting as early as the fall 2013 sports season. Today’s article focuses on the impact on PSAC men’s soccer.
Part 4: Men’s Soccer
Given the PSAC’s recent dominance in men’s soccer, it wouldn’t seem as though the addition of Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill would have a major impact on competitive balance in the league.
With ten teams at present – Bloomsburg, California (Pa.), East Stroudsburg, Gannon, Lock Haven, Mercyhurst, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester – the addition of UPJ and Seton Hill would seem to validate the PSAC’s expansion of the men’s soccer tournament field to six teams starting this fall.
At the same time, neither UPJ nor Seton Hill have been dominant the WVIAC over the past few seasons. Here are the records of UPJ and Seton Hill for the past five seasons:
2007: UPJ – 10-7-3 (4-3-2 WVIAC); Seton Hill – 6-12-2 (3-5-1 WVIAC)
2008: UPJ – 10-9-1 (5-4-1); Seton Hill – 9-9-2 (4-5-1)
2009: UPJ – 6-12-1 (4-5-1); Seton Hill – 10-7-4 (6-3-1)
2010: UPJ – 8-9-1 (4-5-0); Seton Hill – 4-10-3 (3-4-2)
2011: UPJ – 7-9-0 (5-4-0); Seton Hill – 6-11-2 (5-4-0)
Throwing both schools into a PSAC that has dominated regional competition, capturing nine of the previous 12 Atlantic Region bids since 2008 (the introduction of the “regional” concept across Division II) – including Millersville’s run to the NCAA Division II national semifinals last season – and both UPJ and Seton Hill seem to be going into a men’s soccer league that is light years ahead of the WVIAC from a competition level.
Additionally, given the round-robin nature of PSAC play, where every team faces each other once during the regular season, the only real impact on the schedule is the loss of two non-conference games out of a NCAA limit of 18 games.
Another option could be to split into two divisions, which was last implemented in 2008 and 2009, giving teams 10 divisional games and 6 “cross-over” games. Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg, Lock Haven, Millersville, Shippensburg and West Chester could comprise an East Division, while Cal, Gannon, Mercyhurst, Pitt-Johnstown, Seton Hill and Slippery Rock could make up a West Division.
One problem, however, would be that the men’s soccer schedule is tied in with the women’s soccer schedule (which will be discussed in the next article in this series). Five PSAC schools with women’s soccer programs – Clarion, Edinboro, IUP, Kutztown and Mansfield – do not sponsor men’s soccer. All PSAC men’s soccer matches are double-headers co-scheduled with the women’s matches.
With those issues in mind, however, adding UPJ and Seton Hill will retain an even number of schools in the PSAC. How that translates into on the field performance for the two prospective new members remains to be seen.
Next: Part 5 – Women’s Soccer
Creighton Rabs covers the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference for pingroof.com. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect official statements of the PSAC or its member institutions.