POULSBO — Its come down to the draw from a hat for the Kingston Buccaneers and North Kitsap Vikings.
The varsity soccer teams’ records were evenly matched this season, which means the No. 1 seed to the Olympic League Tournament isn’t based on team performance.
The Bucs and Vikes ended the regular season 14-2. They each had a win against each other; both final scores were 2-0. And, they share the Olympic League title.
“Co-champions two years in a row,” Kingston head coach Craig Smith said of the tie.
According to the Olympic League Handbook, in case of a tie between the top two teams, the team earning the No. 1 seed to the league tournament is based on a preseason drawing. Kingston drew third, behind Port Angeles and Klahowya; North Kitsap drew seventh.
So, while the two share the title and identical records, the Bucs prevail as the top team heading into the league tournament.
What does that mean for the Bucs? They will play the winner of the Klahowya Eagles/ Port Angeles Roughriders game, which kicksoff the league tournament May 10. The Eagles and Riders are the lowest seeds into the tourney. The loser of the opening game is eliminated from postseason.
That’s about as far as it goes for advantages for the Bucs earning No. 1 seed. The Bucs and Vikings host their opponents in the league tourney, May 12, in the second round.
The winners of the second round of the tournament go on to play each other in the final round. That could mean a final rivalry game between the Bucs and Vikings before the District Playoffs. As far as a potential rivalry matchup goes, it means the difference of hosting the No. 4 seed from the South Puget Sound League, or the No. 3 seed from the same league.
The league tourney decides seeding into the playoffs, which are held at Renton Memorial Stadium, Franklin Pierce High School, and a site in Kitsap that was not determined by deadline. The playoffs determine seeding into the State tournament.
This is the second year the Bucs and Vikings share the title.
“We’re a great matchup,” North Kitsap head coach Greg St. Peter said of the Bucs and Vikings. The Bucs, Wolves, and Vikings have been competitve all season he added. “Kingston has been very steady all season, from what I can tell.”
The Vikings defeated the Sequim Wolves May 7 to wrap up the regular season. The Wolves (13-3) finished — technically — second, with the tie at the top of the league standings.
The Bucs shutout Port Townsend, 6-0, in their regular season wrap-up.
The Bucs are healthy right now, more so than mid-season, Smith said. “There are a few dings here and there.”
The Vikings, too, are seeing injured players return to the field, such as Reece Newman and David Sheriff.
“Newman was a huge factor in the win [over Sequim],” St. Peter said. “He’s a great motivator … provided a huge boost.”