After grinding through the regular season for the past two months, the drop in temperature signifies it’s almost playoff time for the fall sports teams.
Both Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central’s girls soccer teams will be headed to the state Class L tournament for the third year in a row with their sights set on making deeper postseason runs than in previous years.
Central reached the second round of the tournament last year and fell 3-1 to Naugatuck after a 13-0 victory over Bullard Havens Tech in the opening round. That was a sign of improvement after the Rams exited the 2017 tournament in the first round.
Eastern will take the field in its eighth consecutive state tournament this year. However, the Lancers have only made it out of the first round twice in that span, with their most recent second round appearance being a 1-0 double overtime loss at the feet of Joel Barlow in 2017.
Seeding is important for both teams, with Central (8-5-3) sitting just one spot above Eastern (also 8-5-3) in the Class L rankings at No. 17 and 18, respectively, with the Rams getting the edge thanks to their win over the Lancers earlier this year.
A win for either team in their regular season finale against each other would have likely secured that team a home match in the first round, but both now appear destined for road games.
“We gotta look at the draw,” Eastern head coach Scott Redman said. “State tournament time is kind of survive and advance, so we have a week to get ourselves ready and get our conditioning up and regroup.”
The bracket is expected to be released at noon Friday and the Rams should see an improvement in their seed from their previous two playoff appearances, as they were 25th in 2018 and 27th in 2017.
The Lancers are in a similar position to last year’s tournament, in which they were the 18th seed.
“I know my girls and I are excited we made the tournament,” Eastern senior captain Leah Policarpio said. “It was great for us to have gotten there and I’m excited to take the field with them in my last year.”
Better seeding is a reflection of an improvement in play, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to greater postseason success. While both teams should have strong chances to advance past the first round of tournament play, their rankings will likely pair them with one of the top teams in the conference in the second round.
“We’re really excited because we’ve been setting a lot of goals for ourselves and one of the things was to make it back into the tournament,” Central head coach Ginny Godbout said. “We also have better seeding this year. The next step is to win a couple of games in the state tournament. That’s definitely what we’re looking for, definitely show some people we’re a team to contend with.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811