It was a great season this fall and I appreciate all of your efforts and time that was put into it. This past weekend we were rewarded with some of the most beautiful November soccer weather I've ever experienced, and was able to watch 17 great matches over Saturday and Sunday as a cap off to a great season. Below are the Championship Series winners:
- 7's JV – It was Blessed Seelos over St. James in the championship match, 6-5
- MLS JV – It was St. Kilian White over AMA, 4-1
- Premier JV – It was St. Kilian Green over Guardian Angel, 3-1
- 7's Varsity – It was Divine Mercy over St. James, 4-3
- MLS Varsity – It was Ave Maria over St. Louise 3-2, in a match that went all the way to penalty kicks
- Premier Varsity – It was St. Kilian Green over Archangel Gabriel, 2-1 off of a last second goal
Off Season – Attached is a timeline for the Spring Season, as you can see, registration opens up January 1st and closes February 24th, please plan your registrations periods accordingly.
Also, some of you have inquired about off season opportunities for soccer. I know that there are several leagues throughout the area that specialize in indoor soccer and futsal leagues. These leagues tend to be smaller in format since space is limited and many teams lose players to other winter activities. If you would like any information about opportunities in your area let me know. Also, No offseason is Russelton is putting together some tournaments at rec, travel and comp level for teams. The next one is over thanksgiving break and they'll have some in December, January, and February as well. Attached is a flyer for that.
The Off Season is also a time for me to reflect on what is working and what isn't working in the league and revisiting our rules. One rule change that we will be making in the offseason at the Developmental Level is to modify the Build Out Rule. Currently, it states that (i) when the keeper has the ball, attacking players are to retreat to the buildout line and not advance until the keeper puts the ball in play, and (ii) when there is a goal kick, attacking players are to retreat to the buildout line and not advance until either (1) the kick is received by a defending player (2) or the ball crosses the buildout line). This difference in when attacking players can advance has continually caused confusion amongst players, coaches, referees and parents. In order to simplify things going forward the new rule will be: When the keeper receives the ball or there is a goal kick, attacking players are to retreat to the buildout line and not advance until either (1) the kick is received by a defending player (2) or the ball crosses the buildout line. Nice and simple, so at grades 1-4, coach the kids to get back and don't touch the ball until another defender touches it or it rolls past the build out line.
One change from this current season that I believe we will be keeping is the 7v7 league. It seemed to provide a venue to play the game for schools that would not have been otherwise able to play due to low numbers. Assuming we have enough schools that register to make a bracket, I'd like to continue having that option available to you all.
Finally, looking forward to the spring season, I do expect to need to do a modest cost increase for the league– it will probably be a $25 per team increase for regular season and postseason play. I am still looking at the numbers and running projected costs, but I wanted to share this possibility with you for planning purposes, as well as providing you with the following reasons:
- Our league fees have been static since at least 2012 (and probably longer) when I became involved with the league
(other than a dollar per dollar fee increase for the JV/Varsity championship series to increase the referees on the field from 2 to 3). Since that time our costs have not remained static, and recent inflationary pressure has made things only worse.
- Since I took over the league in 2020, I have kept my focus on bettering player experience including (1) increasing the brackets at the JV/Varsity size to both make play more competitive and increase trophies/medals presented to players by 50% to 100% depending on the season, (2) increasing the fields used for the developmental tournament from 1 field to 2 fields and utilizing fields that have lighting so we no longer have to turn schools away for the developmental tournament, (3) responding to coaches request to make 3rd and 4th grade tournament play 7v7 on a larger field to more closely match regular season conditions (but also resulting in fewer playing fields overall in the same space, and accordingly, larger rental costs), and (4) switching from grass fields to turf fields at the developmental level to give the kids a better, safer, and more consistent playing experience (one of the best changes made in my opinion as weather is largely eliminated from the playability equation, but it comes at a substantially increased rental cost). All of these changes have been for the better, but all were changes that add to the cost.
- These changes have also resulted in some growth to our league, but growth also comes with problems. Our league participants are not doing a great job at following the rules that our venues have asked us to adhere to. At the developmental tournament we still had some parking issues, still had some issues with people bringing pets and food into the venue, issues with garbage not being disposed of properly, and still had issues with people setting up tents in areas where they were not permitted. Some of these same issues occured at Seton LaSalle as well. I've tried my best to manage them, but frankly there are alot more offenders than there are of me and it isn't possible to keep up with policing everything and run the tournaments. Accordingly the vendors have let me know that our rental rates are increasing to build in the costs of hiring staff to oversee this policing since we have done a poor job of doing that ourselves over these last three seasons. I'm sorry, this is a cost that I really wanted to avoid and I tried, but our organization will have to bear this cost going forward if we want to keep having these types of events.
- While it isn't happening in the Spring, we know that the referee rates will increase next Fall so I need to plan for that as well as the post season referees is a cost that the league covers.
I wanted to get this in front of you for planning purposes and so you understood the rationale. I do not take any increase of costs lightly and we try to do our best to give you a great experience for your kids at as small of cost as possible, but I do hope that especially those of you who have been involved in the league for a bit will appreciate the improvements that we have made during the last few years to try to give our players a great event to end their seasons.
Additional OffSeason Playing Opportunities- This can be a bit of a challenge to work in, especially if your players have moved onto basketball, wrestling or another winter activity, but for those of you that have a group of players that are still interested in playing soccer over the offseason, there are opportunities out there. One nice thing about them is that they tend to be indoor and smaller rostered sized, so it's easier to field a squad when kids have conflicts. I'm more familiar with opportunities in the northern part of the region because that's where I live, but there are lots of places out there where you can have your players sign up for an indoor soccer or futsal team and they'll get a game every week to keep them engaged and not be rusty for the start of the spring session- I've personally had my kids play indoor at Tri County and futsal at PISA and both are great. I know with Futsal and Indoor Soccer they've already started their first session but there is a second session that starts up in January and tends to go 6-8 weeks.
If a once a week commitment is still too much there are other venues that do mini tournaments, including a 5v5 tournament for different ages and skill levels up at No Offseason. They are having a tournament over Thanksgiving weekend (girls will be on Friday and boys will be on Saturday). I've attached a flyer for the Thanksgiving session and I know that they will be doing indoor ones in December, January, and February as well.
For any of these opportunities let me know if you want more details. I have found it to be a fun way to keep the players engaged and their skill sharp.