CHAZY/WILLSBORO - Taking a page from the highly successful merger between the Section VII and Section X football teams, the Mountain and Valley and Champlain Valley Athletic Conference (MVAC) will merge leagues for the 2011-12 soccer season.
The two-year trial was developed through Section VII soccer chairman Rob McAuliffe, head coach of the state champion Chazy boys soccer team.
"There could be some tweaks, but the formation of the schedule is done and the proposal has been approved by both the MVAC, CVAC and Section VII," McAuliffe said. "I put a proposal together in the spring and shared it with other schools because we thought that this was a way to solve some of the problems the section was having."
McAuliffe said two main concerns included the declining enrollment in some schools that forced either consolidation or elimination of soccer programs and the lack of competitive balance in certain divisions within the MVAC and CVAC.
"One of the big points was the level of competition in both leagues," McAuliffe said. "Both leagues were experiencing some very lop-sided scores. Under this new format, you get schools playing schools of similar size and ability."
The new soccer uber-league will have three divisions, the first comprising of all Class B teams (AuSable Valley, Beekmantown, Northeastern Clinton, Peru, Plattsburgh, Saranac and Saranac Lake), the second of northern Class C and Class D programs (Lake Placid, Northern Adirondack, Seton Catholic, Chazy, Elizabethtown-Lewis, Willsboro and Westport for boys; Lake Placid, Northern Adirondack, Seton Catholic, Ticonderoga, Moriah, Chazy, Elizabethtown-Lewis and Willsboro for girls) and a third division of southern Class D schools (Crown Point, Indian Lake/Long Lake, Johnsburg, Keene, Minerva\Newcomb, Schroon Lake and Wells for boys; Crown Point, Indian Lake/Long Lake, Westport, Keene, Minerva\Newcomb, Schroon Lake and Wells for girls). Westport moves from Division II to Division III in girls soccer to make room for Moriah and Ticonderoga, who do not have boys soccer programs.
"We are looking to see if the geographical schedule is going to work," Karen Lopez, director of Section VII, said. "There is a hope that this new league is going to save on transportation and time both on the bus and away from school for the districts."
"I think that this is going to be great," Steven Broadwell, Willsboro Central School superintendent and president of the MVAC said. "This shows a collaborative effort between all of the schools in the north country that looked at this in terms of the best interests of soccer in the region, and I think that this is going to be very good for the sport in this area."
McAuliffe said that the new league format will also ensure that teams will have enough games to fill out a schedule.
"Many MVAC schools were having trouble getting games outside the league schedule," McAuliffe said. "This will give all teams a solid schedule of around 14 games. As a whole, this is the best thing for our sectional soccer teams."
Lopez said that the two-year trial for the new soccer league is similar to what the section did when it went into a partnership with Section X to create the Northern Conference for football, which has sent several teams deep in to the regional playoffs, including two-time state finalist Moriah and state finalist Ticonderoga.
"We will look at this at the end of two years and see if it has done everything that we were looking to accomplish," Lopez said. "We are at the point where we wanted to try this because a lot of the benefits do make sense. This is a healthy thing to look at for the section and for our school districts."
The new schedule would not feature any league championship games, with division titles determined only by the record within the set league schedule. Seeding for the Class B and Class C soccer tournaments would be determined by games within their own classification.
"We are still working out things like how all star teams would be assigned and how tiebreakers would be handled, but we are excited for this upcoming season," McAuliffe said.