Faulkner: Pirates' soccer in a fix

The Orange Coast College men's soccer team can do itself a big favor by winning its Orange Empire Conference and regular-season finale at Norco on Friday.

The Pirates, just like the OCC women's team, has been put in a bit of a pickle due to a unique soccer playoff pairings system that evaluates teams on the basis of something known as power points.

The points system, somewhat similar to Ratings Percentage Index for NCAA schools, gives a value to every game played by every team in the state. Based on those points, the teams are admitted to the 16-team Southern California Regional playoffs.

Conference champions earn automatic berths, but their seeding is contingent on their power-point ranking.

So the OCC men, who enter Friday two points ahead of second-place Santa Ana (the conference awards three points for a win and one for a tie) will at least make the field if they can beat Norco. A tie at Norco would give OCC at least a share of the OEC crown, but even that might put the Pirates in peril.

The trouble is that due to the program-wide probation incurred by what were deemed extra practice sessions, all OCC programs except football were required to eliminate one contest from their schedule.

Under bylaws specific to soccer (created to prevent coaches from dropping late-season nonconference games to maximize power-point rankings), any contest originally on the schedule that is dropped must count as a forfeit for the school that drops the contest.

With the power-point system, a forfeit produces zero points, while a loss in a match that is actually played gives the losing school one point. Further, the contest counts in the formula by which teams add the total games played to their power-point total, then divide by the number of contests played.

So, a team that plays a 20-game schedule adds 20 points to its total and divides by 20. OCC, however, may add only 19 points, then divide by 20. So, its power-point ranking takes a small hit.

According to incomplete power-point rankings listed on the California Community College Soccer News website, OCC, which would lose a potential tiebreaker with Santa Ana, is No. 17 in Southern California. Since its power-point ranking was adversely affected by its sanction-induced game taken away on the schedule counting as a forfeit, without being credited as a "contest" under the soccer bylaws, OCC could be left out of the playoffs it should have otherwise made.

And, even though it is one of five conference champions, it would (should the rankings hold when all schools update their totals before the playoff seeding meeting on Tuesday), render OCC the No. 16 seed, which would mean a first-round road date against the No. 1 seed. Hardly fair to OCC, or the No. 1 seed that draws a conference champion.

The OCC women, who sit in second place, one point ahead of Cypress and two in front of Saddleback heading into Friday's season finale against visiting Irvine Valley, are currently No. 14 in the incomplete Southern California power-point rankings. Even if they get in, their seeding would be significantly affected.

Kevin Smith, OCC's director of soccer, who technically acts as the women's head coach and backs up Glenn Strachan, who coaches the men's team, saw the problem coming and tried to appeal to the state community college governing body, as well as the state coaches assn. But, since the bylaws would need to be changed to accommodate the exception, all contacted said it was too late to make a change for this season's playoffs. Such a change, they said, would require going through the legislative hoops that often take nearly a year.

Smith said soccer is the only sport at OCC that is so adversely affected by having to surrender a contest on its schedule and believes that common sense should intervene to give both Pirates' teams a pass as it relates to being allowed to claim one point for the subtracted game. He said he would even be willing to absorb the loss on his record, if he could get that point back, instead of the zero awarded for a "forfeit."

If the OCC men can claim outright the program's first conference crown since 1991, at least they will be allowed to test their meddle in the postseason.

It appears the women are also playoff bound, should they finish in the top 16 in the power-point rankings.

So though disappointed by what he deems unfair punishment under the soccer bylaws, Smith would likely consider it a bullet dodged, should both teams at least make the playoffs.

The OCC football season finished with less controversy and considerably less success than the Pirates' soccer squads.

Coach Mike Taylor's unit fell to conference champion Fullerton, 63-21, on Saturday to cap a 3-7 campaign. 1-5 in conference, that wasn't even as good as the three wins might indicate.

The Pirates set a school record for most points allowed (442) and most yards per game surrendered (511.1), both of which contributed to being ranked last in total defense in the 37-school Southern California Football Assn.

The 511 yards per game were nearly 38 more than the second-worst SCFA defense (Saddleback) and the 442 points allowed were 54 more than No. 36-ranked Los Angeles Harbor.

The 511 yards allowed were also 63 per game more than OCC's previous worst defense (1998).

Offensively, though the Pirates were No. 19 in the SCFA in yards per game (388.3), they failed to top 1,000 yard rushing as a team (967). Since 1965, only 11 OCC teams have failed to average triple-digits on the ground.

Taylor now has just three winning seasons in his 15-year tenure at the helm, a 61-91 overall record (a .405 winning percentage), and a 26-54 cumulative record in conference play (a .325 winning percentage). In the last six seasons, OCC is 6-28 in conference play (a .176 winning rate).

Jordan Desguin, a 2012 Newport Harbor High graduate who began his collegiate baseball career at Florida State, signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to play at Florida Gulf Coast.

Desguin, the son of former Sailors coach Joel Desguin, hit .364 with seven runs batted in as a senior shortstop at Newport Harbor. He was a first-team All-Sunset League honoree.

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