MO Soccer Blog

MO Soccer Blog

2022 Survey Responses Part 2 - Overtimes

by Admin on 03/15/22

We continue the findings from our coaches survey with a deeper dive into one of the most controversial topics that always seem to at the forefront of MSHSAA Advisory Board meetings each year.

The perennial question - what to do with deadlocked games at the end of regulation? This has been discussed (and cussed) for many years throughout MO and can almost always be counted on to be brought up with the coaches every year for “passionate” discussion. Historically, MO has tried many different approaches over the years before deciding on the current format of two sudden victory 10-minute OT’s and then Penalties in the late 90’s/early 2000s. Despite it being the rule for years, many still disagree with it and seek to have it changed - with no success - since.
    Many believe the soccer “tie”is just part of the game. Many coaches don’t want to play OT unless it’s a conference game because of the possibility of later nights, several games in the week/extra wear and tear, etc. Others argue that playing the OT’s (and potential PK’s) are good preparation for the post-season due to not being able to create those kind of experiences for players anywhere but in a game-like situation.
    Ultimately, the one factor that seems to resurface during every discussion that seems to have the most weight (even over the soccer “purists” who argue for draws) is the question of - What do the players most likely want? With little exception, the players want a result - win or lose - after playing a match. It’s obviously a significant culture difference from the rest of the world (even in the local club environments where draws are more likely to be an unacceptable result), but the argument from the player’s perspective is that high school teams/players DO want to have a result. The OT and PK endings are some of the most memorable in any season - for fans and players alike - and players have long been advocates for returning to school the next day to talk about a more-than-normal exciting ending with peers, faculty, etc. that are more in line with other sports that all have “a winner.” As mentioned above, many coaches also gain valuable insight into preparing for those situations in the postseason, which often replicate the intensity of a mid-season OT match, or at least the closest thing to it.
    The Advisory Boards over the years have stuck to that premise - for better or worse. Many years ago coaches were given the option to choose OT preferences prior to individual games, which frankly was a disaster. Even if agreeing to a certain format (5-min OT, 10-min OT’s, straight to PK’s, you name it), many coaches weren’t recording results accordingly and if coaches couldn’t agree, then the game was played under default OT rules. MSHSAA, understandably, ended that after a short period and this has led to the current rule.
    So, obviously, the question was posed to the membership - what do coaches really want with OT scenarios? The results (a reminder that 145 responded):
    For All Regular Season Games
58 (40%) like the current system
52 (36%) would rather see no OT/PK’s
18 (12.4%) OTs, but NO PK’s
8 (5.5%) NO OT, straight to PKs
    As expected, a heavy split, but one thing to gain from this…nearly 75% want some kind of result (methods on getting thereto that point vary) during the regular season. The current method, while not universally liked, does seem to win out here…and if players were polled, the guess is that most would likely align with the current MSHSAA format.
    For all Post Season Games
91 (63%) prefer the current method of 2x15 sudden victory OT’s and then PKs
33 (23%) want 2x10 OT and then PK’s (regular season method)
17 (12%) want to continue playing OT’s until a winner is determined. NO PK’s.
2% had other versions…
    While not a perfect way to conclude a postseason game (as evidenced by the different variations included), the current MSHSAA method does seem to have the most backing.
    While this topic is likely to resurface again (and again…and again…), for now, it would seem that a slight majority are on board with how things are currently done. The opposite kind of results (the mercy rule) has been tweaked over the past few years (from 10 goal differential to 8 after a half), so there is always the potential for changes in the OT procedures although based on the survey, most don’t want the change.

    Coming in the days ahead…more results from the survey, including classifications, season length, improvements to the game (and our association!) and much more!

Spring is here (almost...)!

by Admin on 03/09/22

We start the 2022 year with fresh hopes of a mild Spring and plenty of good soccer stories and content ahead for all.

Recently, we sent a survey out to the membership asking for thoughts and comments on several different topics affecting MO high school soccer and will be spending the next few weeks highlighting the responses. Several of the topics are quite detailed (as in...many people have many strong feelings), so we will try to break the material down into manageable sections for the readers out there.

Today, an intro into the demographics that responded. As of now we have over 250 members in our association and will likely push past 300 this year once the girls season gets into full swing. Our survey closed Feb. 28 and we had nearly 60% of the membership complete it. Some numbers, for perspective, so that when we discuss the topics, we can see that for the most part we had a representative number of different locations, school sizes, experience, etc.

**The intent of the survey was for an open discussion on topics. Coaches were allowed to submit anonymously or leave an email/name to their responses (56/145 (39%) signed a name/email). What we have found is that each geographic region, class size, school setting, etc. pose different issues/benefits and trying to find what's "best" for all is an extremely difficult task in a state with so many factors involved. This is often the task that MSHSAA is facing when trying to decide the best path for soccer, as well as other activities offered.**

145 surveys received
129 from head coaches (89%)
85 Coach both Boys and Girls (59%)
32 Boys only (22%)
26 Girls only (18%)
123 work within the school district (85%)
115 Public School coaches (79%)**
29 Private School coaches (20%)**
**This is fairly close to the number of public vs. private schools playing soccer)

 Based on 2021 Classifications:
47 Class 4 (32%)
38 Class 3 (26%)
21 Class 2 (21%)
14 Class 1 (10%)
14 Multi-class - boys/girls in different classes (10%)

55 in STL (38%)
33 in KC (23%)
21 in SW (15%)
20 in Central (14%)
7 in SE (5%)
4 in NW (3%)
*Another handful who identified as rural/other areas

Coming up...some "hot" topics and the memberships thoughts...Overtimes, Classification System, season length, uniform rules, media, updating the website and much more!

NOTE: Comments are always welcome. Apologies for any that were missed/overlooked last fall as there is a setting that doesn't allow for immediate posting without approval, something we weren't aware of for most of last fall's blog posts.

What if...a MO Soccer Promotion/Relegation Scenario

by Admin on 12/16/21

The end of 2021 is almost here and while classes are finishing up and the high school soccer season is still close enough in our rearview to have a decent remembering, we thought we'd finish with a nod to the 2022 season while acknowledging one of our sport's biggest areas of debate - the postseason tournament and classifications.

Much has been written and discussed regarding MSHSAA's Championship Factor and the impact that it has had on the past few postseasons. In the spirit of tweaking the system a bit to try to make the playoffs a little more "even" (for lack of better word), we toyed with our Missouri Power Rankings and came up with a "what if" scenario that places schools into classifications based on a  three-year success window. As stated on our website page, this isn't a "real" thing and there are some issues with geography and MSHSAA enrollment size guidelines that we didn't have the time to completely figure out. However, with a little bit of imagination this study does allow for a fairly clear picture to be considered for those interested in seeing a Promotion/Relegation Tournament scenario. Who knows, maybe this is something MSHSAA could explore for all sports...???

This will likely be our last blog of 2021 - we hope these have provided some fun and thoughtful musings on soccer in MO. Much of what we have been able to discuss comes because of the work of Ryan Schweain at Cape Notre Dame, who would likely not want to have any kind of attention brought his way, but whose ideas have been the basis for many of these writings. Many thanks to Ryan for his work for our association!

Enjoy - have a safe and happy holiday season!

Boys Strength of Schedule

by Admin on 12/15/21

Before we put the 2021 season to a close, we had a few more interesting tidbits to share. While we've been busy wrapping up postseason awards for the state and national levels, we've also gone back to do a (very) basic look at each team's strength of schedule. To be able to make it a numerical view, we took a base number (1.25), multiplied it by the team's opponent size and then multiplied it by the opponent's winning percentage.

While we understand that to get a more accurate assessment would be to include the opponent's vs. opponent's winning percentage, that is just a little more work than what we have the time to do for now, so we'll stick to this model as just a simple way to see how difficult each team's schedule truly was for 2021.

As always, these schedule vary due to many uncontrollable factors. Some schools are locked into conferences (the home/home conference schedule especially limits schools when it comes to being able to play different teams), while others deal with geographic or financial/budget issues. Others simply are stuck playing schedules that were put into place without much thought by AD's. There is also the uncontrollable factor of how opponents fare in their other games. Many schools often fluctuate in success over an extended period of time, so scheduling a team that had a big year in 2019, for example, may have been a boost for the strength of schedule in 2020, but dropped significantly if that school had a drop off due to graduation or other factors.

(The link is also on our main web page.)

Tomorrow (12-16) we will release JUST FOR FUN a "what if?" classification and district assignment for the boys based on a promotion/relegation format. We took the previous 3-year average of Missouri Power Rankings (MPR) scores and placed the top 64 into class 4, the next into class 3, class 2, etc. just as if MSHSAA would do it based on the MPR numbers. (By the way, figuring out district assignments is no easy task - MSHSAA has a lot to deal with there, for sure!) For those who would love to see the schools placed into classifications more "equally" and based on recent success, this should be a fun look at what that would look like. More on that tomorrow...

Nov. 23 - Awards and What's Next

by Admin on 11/23/21

Just like's over.

The 2021 postseason ended Saturday with four champions standing alone after the three plus weeks of playoffs. Thankfully, serviceable (dry!) weather, quality competition and memorable matches highlighted the stretch and memories were made for many. After a chaotic and tense 2020, it was good to get back to some normalcy and even better to have 221 tournament games to look back on.

Congratulations to the three champions who added to their already full trophy cases (Rockhurst, Ft. Zumwalt South and Whitfield have a combined 19 titles) and to Lutheran St. Charles for winning its first. All four #1 teams in the Missouri Power Rankings won their classes this year making the MPR 10 for 12 in accurately predicting the state champs since its inception in 2019. (Guadalupe in 2019 and Jackson in 2020 were the exceptions.)

We will do a deeper dive into some of the final weekend (as well as some other soccer odds and ends) in the weeks ahead, but our time now has been spent focusing on post season awards.

On November 24 the MO High School Soccer Coaches Association will announce its four all state teams as we continue a stretch where our main purpose comes to the forefront - that of honoring players, teams, coaches and others involved with the game.

This is not an easy or perfect process. It is likely that many or some will disagree with what is presented. That part is generally inevitable. While matches get decided on the field - one way or the other - the subjective matter of choosing the state's best is another beast. Missouri is a big state. Coaches don't get to see all the players in their classes. Their is always the healthy and protective bias of those coaches to push for their own players to be ahead of someone else. It's natural and as much a part of our game as a goal kick or a throw in.

Until 1998 there wasn't a true "all state" team. Generally there were some media teams (STL and maybe a KC) and usually all district honors but nothing that took into account the entire state under one umbrella. Consolidating wasn't an easy effort, but it did finally happen because the coaches from STL (MO's soccer "home") saw fit to open their arms to the rest of the state - even though most of the "out staters" weren't quite at the level of the top STL teams just yet (although it was slowly happening).

As mentioned before, Blue Springs' 1996 championship started to open a few doors, but it was also the other teams making it into the final four weekends that showed that there were some good players being developed elsewhere. Coach Jan Stahle's Springfield Greenwood squad set a national record in 1996 with 24 consecutive shutouts and played in four straight final fours in the 1A-3A class despite an enrollment of just over 100 students. Chris Lawson's KC Rockhurst squads were arguably the team in MO for over a 20 year period, winning 7 titles from 98-2017. Brad Wittenborn's Cape Notre Dame squad won three titles in the early 2000s, setting a precedent for the SE part of the state while further expanding the game.

In any case, honoring players has been (and likely always will be) an imperfect, yet worthwhile attempt. Our coaches association came together in 1998 because the game's finest and most respected coaches were willing to extend the olive branch to those far from STL. Missouri has long been acknowledged for developing and producing the nation's best players and coaches. Our national team's history runs straight through St. Louis and the soccer culture that was established there. We do not have what we have in our state without those coaches understanding what was best for our game was to embrace the state as a whole. Coaches like CBC's Terry Michler, Aquinas-Mercy's Vince Drake, Francis Howell North's Vince Nowak, Francis Howell Central's Dan Hogan and Chaminade's Mike Gauvain (to name a few) not only gave their full support to establishing our association, but stepped up to help select player and team awards. Without their input, guidance and approval we would not have what we have today.

Our association is modeled after the national coaches association. Formerly the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and now the United Soccer Coaches, it is the largest coaches association of any sport in the world. Headquartered in Kansas City, the United Soccer Coaches have been a fantastic support system for us and regularly honor thousands of players and coaches all over the world each year. (This year's annual national convention will take place in KC in January, 2022 and will have some of the biggest names in soccer in attendance.)

Like the United Soccer Coaches, we follow a system to honor players. We have tweaked ours to better meet some of our needs, but essentially the systems are the same. Coaches have to be a member of the association (pay dues and register) and have full access to player selection - from nomination to voting. Many are very involved. Many are not. Many go beyond that part and help organize regions and classes so that our players can get these awards. It is time-consuming, demanding and often difficult because of geography, other work/job requirements and, to be truthful, at times apathy. In any case, we have been recognizing players under pretty much this same format (technology has helped immensely!) since 1998. This year's class reps have gone above and beyond to make all state happen - all on a volunteer level.

Sunday we released the all region teams. We delayed it a bit so that the release would not be a distraction to those coaches and players still playing in the final four. This is the first step in our process. Coaches nominate players for the region teams (this year we have two districts per region - anywhere from 10-16 teams) and the coaches within that region ultimately select the best players from that region based on coaches nominations, strength of schedule, playing ability, value to his team, etc. Players of the year are also selected by those coaches.

From there, we take the four regions in each class and merge them into an all state team. Classes 3 and 4 have more players because there are more teams in those classes. 1 and 2 are generally smaller. While we try to distribute equally among the four regions, this typically doesn't always happen. The truth of the matter is that there is usually a stronger region or two and those regions end up with more players than others. We look at how the state tournament played out, how the season was overall and how teams and players played in some of the more high profile matches they were in. The regional reps work with the class rep to ensure that each region has a say in final selection. Obviously not everyone on an all region team will make an all state squad. As the level increases, the more difficult it is to be placed.

Individual awards are also selected in each class and is done by a voting of the class and region reps. Not everyone may agree and that's likely the case when people will see the teams after they are released. Parents, players, coaches, media and family are all likely to see things a bit different and that's to be expected when dealing with the opinions of so many. Regardless, our all state teams have been selected by the people who know the players the best - the coaches. Comparing player A's season to Player B is often an unenviable and challenging task but we do the best we can based on the recommendations of the coaches who know them best.

Also in the week ahead we will release the 2021 MO Boys All Americans and All Central/Midwest region players. These are the top players in the state - regardless of class - and will be selected by our entire association via nominations and a vote. The United Soccer Coaches honors 85 All Americans throughout the country each year and a total of 380 All Region players. The number of players per state is based on the number of high school coaches registered with the United Soccer Coaches at the time of allocation. Missouri has gradually built our numbers up to the highest we've ever had this year - 4 All Americans and 14 All Region (the 4 All Americans are also All Region, so we have 18 players total.) Ohio has the largest number of All Americans (19) and All Region (64) because each coach in Ohio is required by their state to be a United Soccer Coaches member. MO does not require national membership (which comes with many other perks and benefits) but we do offer a $25 discount to dues and an additional $25 off to convention fees by being a member of our association, so essentially our state fees are minimal. This year MO ranks 5th nationally in coaches memberships - a big jump from previous years.

In addition to all of that we will announce the Academic All State team (we do ours differently than other sports...for more explanation, you can look go to the Academic All State page on our website) and the state Coaches of the Year (for national purposes, there are three categories: Small Public (Class 1 and 2), Large Public (Class 3 and 4) and Private/Parochial (all private, parochial and charter schools - regardless of class size). As a state we honor a Private and a Public Coach of the Year in each class, but nationally we have to fill in those three categories. State winners are up for region awards and if a coach wins the region award he is up for the National Coach of the Year against the other regions. We have several other specific awards that will be voted on by the association and announced in the weeks ahead.

Finally, we will have a few more items to discuss to wrap up the 2021 season. Final Missouri Power Rankings will be posted in the days ahead (Thanksgiving will likely slow our postings a bit), as will the final strength of schedule rankings for each team - something new to look at. While not necessarily an indicator of success, it does bring light to how difficult a team's schedule was for the year. Obviously a lot of factors go into a schedule (location, conferences, rivalries, tournaments, etc.) and it's not an area that can be pinpointed each year because predicting success isn't always an easy thing to do. We will take a look at that in more detail after Thanksgiving.

Plenty more to come...have a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!