Well, the postseason is underway, at least in the Class A field.
Despite a slight stumble at the gate involving a team getting bumped into a higher classification, the District 4 playoffs are filled with quality first-round matchups and the potential for some heavyweight caliber semifinal and champion contests.
DISTRICT 4 CLASS A PLAYOFFS
Remaining field: No. 1 Loyalsock vs. No. 9 Mansfield; No. 4 Southern Columbia vs. No. 12 Mr. Carmel; No. 2 East Juniata vs. No. 10 Benton; No. 2 Bloomsburg vs. No. 6 Millville
The top seeds had few struggles in the first round.
The only surprising final might have been Southern Columbia's 2-1 win over Muncy. I'm not entirely shocked by the outcome, but thought Southern might have had an easier time against Muncy. But, then again, Muncy looked strong to close out the season, and playing with the knowledge of a loss sending you home might have sparked something.
Loyalsock dominated its first-round contest against Wyalusing, cruising to a 7-0 win. The Lancers knocked off Warrior Run and Southern Columbia in their final two regular season games and have continued at the pace which makes them a clear favorite to win the district for a third consecutive season.
It isn't going to be easy, though. Mansfield proved to be up for the challenge against a surging South Williamsport group, beating the Mounties, 4-3, in double overtime.
Jackie Hillson is a dynamic goal-scorer for the Tigers, and in Tuesday's first-round game, she scored twice, breaking a 1-1 tie and later giving Mansfield a 2-1 lead on an unassisted effort.
Katy Burdett and the rest of the Lancer defenders should be up for the test, though. The group has stopped some of the area's top offenses, including a shutout of Warrior Run in the final week of the season.
Remaining field: No. 1 Northeast Bradford vs. No. 8 Sayre; No. 4 Benton vs. No. 5 Millville; No. 2 Bloomsburg vs. No. 7 Liberty; No. 3 East Juniata vs. No. 6 Loyalsock
Matt Hibbs scored three goals in Loyalsock's 4-1 win over No. 11 Sullivan County, and Tyler Quigley got the offense rolling with the team's first goal after a scoreless opening half.
Louis Comfort made some tough saves and even handled a few aggressive scoring efforts by the Griffins, who also received a solid first half outing from keeper Zach Myers.
East Juniata, a 7-0 winner over No. 14 Galeton, represents a big challenge for the Lancers, who ended the season winning eight of their last 11 games.
DISTRICT 4 CLASS AA PLAYOFFS
Remaining field: No. 1 Central Columbia vs. No. 8 Lewisburg; No. 4 Montoursville vs. No. 5 Selinsgrove; No. 2 Athens vs. No. 7 Midd-West; No. 3 Warrior Run vs. No. 6 Danville
One team advances in the winner-take-all tournament, and it's not going to be easy in one of the strongest AA fields I've seen in recent memory.
It's full of good matchups at every level and I feel confident saying that regardless of who advances. But, much like an overanxious striker who sends a shot soaring over the goal, I'm going to have show some patience and dissect this bracket one step at a time.
Central Columbia enters as the top overall seed with Athens and Warrior Run rounding out the top three spots.
For Central's efforts, which got the Blue Jays through the season unscathed, it gets a first-round match against No. 8 Lewisburg. Lewisburg won three of its last four games, beating league rivals Midd-West and Williamsport. The Green Dragons averaged 2.5 goals and had two shutouts though those four games.
Montoursville opens its postseason with a familiar opponent in Selinsgrove. It will be the third meeting between the two HAC-I teams. The two previous match-ups went to Montoursville.
Obviously, the Warriors are more than capable of scoring with best teams in the area. The only question throughout the season was the defense and goalkeeping. And after giving up six goals over the course of two games, it appeared Montoursville might have had a noticeable weakness.
But like any good team with a panicky, overanxious reporter bearing down on them, they reacted and fixed everything before it became an issue. Montoursville always seems to match up well against Selinsgrove and I don't think Saturday is going to be any different.
It was an overtime win late in the season that tested Warrior Run's ability to come from behind and win, and Saturday we get to do it all over again as the Defenders open their second year of title defense against Danville.
No loss is fun, and I have a feeling the Defenders have been stewing over the season finale, a double overtime loss to Loyalsock. With no rematch scheduled this season since the bump up to AA, Warrior Run will have to take its built-up frustrations out on the new field.
This might be an issue, kind of like trying to relieve stress by punching a bag filled with cement. The Defenders' first-round opponent Danville is going to be a challenge. The Ironmen beat Montoursville twice this year and have shown the ability to score goals in bunches.
It's going to be a difficult first-round test, certainly one you'd think a one-loss team would avoid. But, like I've preached throughout this column, the AA field is that good.
Remaining field: No. 1 Warrior Run vs. No. 9 Midd-West; No. 4 Troy vs. No. 5 Selinsgrove; No. 2 Danville vs. No. 10 Mifflinburg; No. 3 Lewisburg vs. No. 6 Central Columbia
Warrior Run is without question the favorite entering the postseason. After running through the regular season without a loss, why not?
The Defenders will open play after an extended rest thanks to earning the top seed. Warrior Run faes No. 8 Midd-West, a 2-0 winner over No. 9 Shamokin.
Due to soccer's recent surge in fans, the MLS is doing a great job of playing catch up to the more established leagues in America. No, the MLS doesn't boast 30 teams like Major League Baseball, or 32 teams like the National Football League. And because of this the MLS, which has 19 teams, is forced to take a bigger chunk of the league for the playoffs.
In an effort to keep the regular season meaningful, though, the MLS implicated an annual trophy of sorts called the Supporters' Shield, which is given to the team with the best overall record, regardless of the Conference.
Since District IV opted to go with a more open playoff format I think it'd be fun to see something similar handed out to the teams with the best records in each classification of the district. Just a suggestion.
Brett Crossley covers high school soccer for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/BrettCrossley44.