Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

Colonial Sports Network

The womens lacrosse team falls to Maryland 17-1 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Photo credit: Taylor Roberts
"It sets the path for us to be here every year.": Women's Lacrosse closes out promising season against Maryland
Michael DeemerMay 10, 2024

COLLEGE PARK, Md.-- After starting the year 0-6, the Robert Morris women's lacrosse team earned their second-ever NCAA Tournament berth as they faced the fourth-ranked Maryland...

Dutch: Horizon League Men’s Soccer Tiebreaker Needs To Be Re-Examined

Samantha Dutch

With the conclusion of the men’s soccer regular season, the Horizon League revealed the #HLMSOC Championship bracket on Wednesday. Though everything seemed to go in the favor of Robert Morris, the team still missed out on making it to the playoffs.

After the Colonials’ 1-0 win over Cleveland State, the team (and everyone else) was under the impression that the final thing that needed to happen was Green Bay winning or tying against Milwaukee for Robert Morris to gain the final spot.

Milwaukee had nine points then, and the win brought Robert Morris from eight to 11 points. If Milwaukee won, the Panthers would have jumped the Colonials in standings, but they fell to Green Bay 4-2.

However, the Colonials were blindsided by not knowing the Horizon League tiebreaker ahead of time. The conference knew these teams played on the same day but did not reveal any scenarios or possible outcomes. Robert Morris discovered its fate not until late in the evening and with lots of confused scrambling.

Because Robert Morris and Wright State concluded their seasons with identical Horizon League records (3-3-2), the conference looked to see how both teams fared against the top seed, Oakland, for the tiebreaker.

To no surprise, each squad lost to the first-place Golden Grizzlies. In Wright State’s meeting with Oakland on Oct. 14, they lost 5-0. In a closer match on Oct. 21, RMU fell 1-0 despite greatly outshooting them.

Due to this, the Horizon League then looked to see how both teams fared when they met with the second seed, Green Bay.

When announcing the 2023 Championship Bracket from the Horizon League stated, “Wright State held a tiebreaker over RMU for the no. 6 seed after beating Green Bay 2-0 on Sept. 30.”

RMU tied in its meeting with Green Bay 1-1 on Oct. 14.

Looking at how two teams did in a one-off match during the season undermines the entire play. Regarding tiebreakers, conferences should look at goal differential or even overall record, looking at statistics of the whole season of play.

The standings and seeds are determined by the entire season of play, but the tiebreaker comes down to one-off games.

Looking at a Power Five conference, like the Atlantic Coast Conference, they had a very similar situation this year. A tiebreaker between North Carolina and Pittsburgh was required for the seventh and eighth seeds, as both finished with an identical conference record (2–3–3). The regular season meeting between the two teams ended in a 0–0 draw, similar to how the encounter between RMU and Wright State finished in a 1-1 tie on Oct. 7.

The next tiebreaker for the two ACC teams was goal differential in conference games. North Carolina had an even goal differential, while Pittsburgh had a -4 goal differential. Therefore, North Carolina was the seventh seed, and Pittsburgh was the eighth seed.

If the Horizon League followed these guidelines, Robert Morris would have had the sixth and final spot, as its goal differential was +1, and Wright State’s was -8.

The English Premier League goes by goal differential. The World Cup goes by goal differential. The Horizon League goes by performance against top teams.

With a set of tiebreakers unlike premier soccer competitions, the conference should’ve reminded fans (and players and coaches) of scenarios and tiebreaker rules before Wednesday’s games to avoid any confusion.

The standings and seeds scope the entire season, so it is strange and undermining that instead of utilizing the whole season, the final Horizon League playoff spot is determined by how both teams did in a single game and not having prior knowledge before the final day.

Despite having a worse goal differential and overall record than Robert Morris, Wright State will now face no. 3 IUPUI in a quarterfinal matchup, kicking off Horizon League playoffs on Sunday, Nov. 5.

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