District 2 boys soccer introduced an open tournament for the first time last year.
The new format brought many surprises that would not have happened if every team wasn’t allowed in the postseason tourney.
A total of four teams that wouldn’t have made the playoffs advanced out of the first round with three of those clubs losing by just one goal in the next round and assuring that this format should stick around for a few more years.
Two of the teams to win in the first round last year were double-digit seeds from the Wyoming Valley Conference in Class A with Meyers and Holy Redeemer. Another one of the upset winners from last year is this year’s top seed in Class 2A Scranton Prep.
Those outcomes from a year ago have coaches all over the district on upset alert. Meanwhile it gives teams entering with losing records hope for extending their season another game.
There’s sure to be at least one upset between now and when the last championship final wraps up on Nov. 5. The hardest part is trying to figure out which teams are involved.
For now, all that’s known is the winner of each classification will advance to the first round of the PIAA Championships on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Here’s a closer look at all 17 Wyoming Valley Conference teams, and each classification with daring predictions.
2014 Champion: Abington Heights
Upset Special: Delaware Valley over Williamsport in the semis.
Bold Prediction: Valley West’s Mike Bazadona has scored three goals or more in eight matches this season. He will make it nine in Wednesday’s quarterfinal against Scranton.
Championship Prediction: Wyoming Valley West over Delaware Valley
Top seed quick fact: Unbeaten Williamsport (14-0) is the favorite and the top seed. The team has outscored opponents 49-4 this season and recorded 11 shutouts. But when they played Hazleton Area in an exhibition, the Millionaires won 2-0. In contrast, second-seeded Wyoming Valley West has defeated the Cougars by a combined score of 16-1 in two games.
Hazleton Area quick fact: The Cougars improved on last season’s record by one win finishing 5-8-1 in 2015.
Pittston Area quick fact: It was a season filled with injuries for the Patriots as they had trouble keeping momentum throughout the campaign.
Wyoming Valley West quick fact: Valley West’s 90 goals this season are 13 more than Coughlin’s for most in the WVC, but the Crusaders reached their number in two more games.
2014 Champion: Coughlin
Upset Special: Sixth-seeded Dallas will reach the finals.
Bold Prediction: In a quarterfinal match on Wednesday, Tunkhannock and Coughlin will have to be decided via penalty kicks.
Championship Prediction: Scranton Prep over Dallas
Top seed quick fact: Scranton Prep (12-0-1) finished the regular season unbeaten for the first time in school history and has recorded eight shutouts this season. Three of the six times the Cavaliers have been scored on this season have been by a Class 3A team. However, Prep’s tie came against ninth-seeded Valley View, 1-1.
Berwick quick fact: For the second straight season, the Bulldogs enter as the 13 seed and play a team from the Back Mountain when they face No. 4 Lake-Lehman. Last season, they fell to Dallas in the first round.
Coughlin quick fact: The Crusaders finished the regular season unbeaten for the second consecutive campaign. They haven’t lost in 34 WVC games dating back to a 3-0 loss to Dallas on Oct. 12, 2013.
Crestwood quick fact: Entering as one of the hottest teams on a 10-match winning streak, the Comets have outscored opponents 48-7 in that span, including five shutouts by keeper Lance Lysiak.
Dallas quick fact: Since starting the season with two losses and a tie in their first six games, the Mountaineers have been on fire going unbeaten in their last 10 games with two ties. They’re grooving at the right time.
GAR quick fact: With five wins this season, the Grenadiers have their most wins since 2010. They were seeded 14 last year and are No. 11 this time around.
Hanover Area quick fact: The winless Hawkeyes have been playing their best soccer in the second half of the season with five of their last eight games being decided by one or two goals, including a tie.
Lake-Lehman quick fact: Junior Ian Dawsey became the first Black Knight player to reach 50 points in a season since his brother, Jay recorded 72 points in 2011.
Nanticoke quick fact: Senior Ed Lukowski is the school’s all-time scoring leader and notched his 100th career goal in the team’s last game of the season. He’s scored a goal in all but three matches this season, all have been Trojan losses.
Tunkhannock quick fact: There are still 14 players on the Tigers roster from the club that won the District 2 title in 2013. That list includes 11 who have scored at least one point this season, eight who have scored points in both seasons, and four players who started in the district championship game two years ago.
Wyoming Area quick fact: The Warriors saw a decrease in wins this season from eight last year to three this season. But the team also had three ties, and four of their 10 losses were by one goal, including setbacks to high seeds Crestwood and Lake-Lehman, and Class A No. 2 seed Wyoming Seminary.
2014 Champion: Wyoming Seminary
Upset Special: No. 11 seed Meyers will defeat No. 6 Blue Ridge in Monday’s first round on the road.
Bold Prediction: Holy Redeemer, which has had just one hat trick all season, will have two players record one in Tuesday’s first round match versus Carbondale.
Championship Prediction: Mountain View over Lakeland
Notes: All four Wyoming Valley Conference teams are seeded in the bottom half of the bracket.
Top seed quick fact: Lakeland (11-0), which was bounced from the playoffs last year by eventual champion Wyoming Seminary, has allowed just four goals this season, with three coming in one game against Elk Lake.
Holy Redeemer quick fact: With a 9-7 record, the Royals have their most wins in a season since 2010 when they also went 9-7. That year, the team reached the District 2 Class 2A semifinals.
Meyers quick fact: Don’t let the 11 losses fool you. The Mohawks have been competitive in most of those games as 7 of their losses were by two goals or less, including five decided by just one goal.
MMI Prep quick fact: For the second straight season, the Preppers enter districts with a 2-14 record. They were seeded 14 last season and are the No. 15 seed for this tournament.
Wyoming Seminary quick fact: Four of the five losses for the defending district champions came in their first 10 matches. The Blue Knights lost just once in their last five.
Reach Dave Rosengrant at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @tldrosengrant