Both the Soldotna and Nikiski high school boys soccer teams would have preferred to lose it on the pitch rather than winning it over a conference call, but the Stars were awarded the Region III-Southern Division's fourth and final seed in the upcoming region tournament when a coin was flipped to break a tie in the standings Monday.
The result gives the Stars a chance to shrug off the "what ifs" that set up the coin flip what if a close match here or there had ended in a tie instead of a loss, or a win instead of a tie.
The coin flip is the last in a series of tiebreaks which include division record, head-to-head results, and results against common opponents from the Northern Division. Nikiski and Soldotna, both 1-3-1 in division play, tied each other, and both notched a win and a tie against Northern Division teams.
There had been some talk of scheduling a rematch to decide things, but teams were instructed to stick to Region III and Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association bylaws regarding tiebreaks and season limits.
While the Alaska School Activities Association allows teams to play a maximum of 22 games, teams are limited to a 10-game regular-season schedule by KPSAA rules and both teams have already hit their limits.
Nikiski coach James Coburn said his players, particularly his seniors, were disappointed after learning of the coin toss result.
"It's probably one of the toughest losses we've ever had, and it wasn't even a game," Coburn said. "The seniors were extremely disappointed. They could have handled losing a game, but losing a coin toss is hard to take but that's the way the rules are written."
Coburn said no one even got the chance to call the toss because "Nikiski" comes before "Soldotna" alphabetically, the Bulldogs were automatically assigned heads. A coin was tossed, and the Stars were announced as the winners.
Coburn said he'd like to see the rules changed to allow teams to settle ties on the field.
"I hope two teams that are tied at the end of the season get a chance to play, for the kids' sake," Coburn said. "They don't really get to participate in a coin flip."
Coburn added that the Bulldogs would be rooting for the rest of the peninsula teams in the postseason.
"I'd like to wish all the other teams from the peninsula good luck. I hope they do well," Coburn said.
The coin flip settles the southern division final standings, with the Skyview Panthers on top at 5-0, Homer in second at 4-1 and Kenai in third at 3-2. Soldotna and Nikiski both finish at 1-3-1 in the division. Seward, 0-5, also will miss the region tournament.
On the girls side, Soldotna is the top seed at 4-0-1, Kenai is No. 2 at 3-1-1, Homer is third at 2-1-2 and Skyview takes the fourth spot at 2-2-1. Nikiski (1-4) and Seward (0-4-1) will miss the region tournament.
In the Northern Division, the Grace Christian boys and girls had both secured the No. 4 seeds for the tournament. However, the top three spots in both the boys and girls standings had not been determined as Colony and Wasilla were scheduled to play Monday evening and results were not available as the Clarion went to press.
The Palmer boys and girls also have qualified for the tournament, while both Houston teams were eliminated in Northern Division play.
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