Brackets unfair in CIS play

In a tournament that holds so much importance to Canadian student athletes, you’d think the coordinators would put a little more thought into the setup.

The Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) women’s soccer national championship this past weekend took place in Victoria, B.C. It highlighted the eight best teams from across Canada from four separate conferences. Each team had an opportunity to advance to the gold medal game through bracket play.

But if they lost, it was over.

The tournament can have defences for both sides of the argument – it’s a good thing that if you lose one game you’re out of gold-medal contention because it teaches athletes the value of playing at their peak performance every day.

Yet, different factors can influence the tournament and the ability for teams to play at their best, so losing one simple game and not advancing is evidently detrimental.

Look at women’s hockey. On the national level, there are only six teams that compete, but they are split into two pools.

This allows each team to play at least two meaningful games, but their second matchup is dependent on how they do in the first game.

It still is vitally important that you win both games, but at least if you lose you still have another chance to move on. It’s just harder.

Women’s soccer allows eight teams to qualify. If eight teams can qualify, then it should be feasible that each team can play a round robin. It only makes sense, especially when playing for such an important championship.

But this isn’t even the worst part of the tournament. As much as I respect the teams that make it to the national level and are capable of battling through adversity to move forward, it should not be given to them on a silver platter.

For example, this year three teams were able to qualify from the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference – these three teams being the No. 1 Ottawa Gee-Gees, the No. 6 Laurier Golden Hawks and the No. 7 Queen’s Gaels.

In the OUA Final Four, Laurier defeated Queen’s to move on to the OUA final against Ottawa. The Gaels then played the McMaster Marauders for the bronze medal.

In a game that was anything but appealing to watch, the Gaels came out with a win on penalty kicks— that took eight rounds to complete.

Not because both teams had fantastic shots, but merely because the net was apparently not big enough for the teams to find.

So why can a team that barely placed in the OUA waltz into a national championship with the easiest set bracket?

It’s inevitable that something along the way will not go according to plan, but when the road for teams that don’t qualify nearly as well becomes easier than conference play, there’s an issue.

If Laurier wanted an easy road, they would have just settled for third instead of fighting Ottawa for first.

Is that what CIS wants to happen to their teams?

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