Six local teams learn seeds
GRANBY — Pioneer Valley Regional School will make its return to the postseason on the friendly confines of its home field.
The Panthers were one of six teams who learned their fate Wednesday afternoon during the annual Western Massachusetts Tournament Committee seed meeting at the Granby High School media center.
The Panthers, who captured the McGrath North Division and finished 10-3-3 under 19-year-old coach Ben Bricker, were seeded eighth in the Division IV boys’ field and are scheduled to host ninth-seeded Mt. Everett Regional High School of Sheffield Friday night at 6.
If Pioneer wins, it would make for an interesting quarterfinal match on Monday at 2 p.m. in Hadley against defending champion and top-seeded Hopkins Academy (16-1-1). Bricker played his high school soccer at Smith Academy — Hopkins’ longtime rival.
Pioneer was one of two area teams to make the Division IV field. Greenfield High School (5-9-4), which earned its postseason berth by finishing second in the McGrath North, was seeded last in the 13-team bracket.
But unlike the Panthers, the Green Wave is plenty familiar with its first-round opponent — fourth-seeded Gateway Regional High School. The Gators came to Greenfield on Oct. 3 and posted a 3-0 win over Greenfield. Now they’ll host the Green Wave on Friday night at 6 in Huntington.
If Greenfield can spring the upset, it will move on to the quarterfinals at either No. 5 Smith Academy or No. 12 Lee High School.
In the Division III field, Athol High School (9-6-3) was seeded ninth in the 10-team field and will head for the central Berkshires Friday afternoon to face No. 8 seed Hoosac Valley High School in Cheshire at 2 p.m.
Athol is plenty familiar with the Hurricanes, having scrimmaged for the past several seasons. If the Red Raiders can get past Hoosac, they will have to contend with defending champion and top-seeded Belchertown High School in Monday’s quarterfinals. The Orioles (16-2-0) played Athol’s Schmid Division rival, Frontier Regional School, earlier in the month and drubbed the Red Hawks, 10-2.
• In the girls’ tournament, Athol and Franklin County League champion Mahar Regional School will both hit the road in the first round of the Division III tourney.
The Senators (13-3-2) were seeded ninth and will head to South Hadley High School on Saturday, but head coach Chad Softic said the time and site have not been finalized.
Mahar and South Hadley tied 1-1 back on Sept. 9 in Orange, so the Senators have an opportunity to advance. Should they win, they’ll journey to Westhampton on Tuesday to challenge top-seeded Hampshire Regional High School (12-1-3).
Athol, meanwhile, won’t play its first-round game until Sunday. The 10th-seeded Red Raiders (7-7-4) also will have to deal with the unknown, traveling to Pittsfield for a 1 p.m. game against No. 7 seed Taconic High School (8-8-2).
If Athol can upset the Braves, it will earn a quarterfinal matchup at No. 2 seed Mt. Greylock Regional High School (10-3-3).
Mohawk Trail Regional High School, meanwhile, was the only area team to qualify in Division IV. The 10th-seeded Warriors (6-10-2) actually have a better record than their first-round opponent, seventh-seeded Lenox Memorial High School (3-11-4). That game is scheduled for Saturday at 1 in Lenox.
The Millionaires, however, qualified via the 70 percent rule and play a punishing schedule in the Berkshires, which gives them one of the highest strength-of-schedule figures in Walker 2.0, the statistical formula used to determine the seeds. (Note: teams must have a .500 record or better against opponents in their own division if at least 70 percent of their assigned schedule is against teams at least one division higher).