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Zopf: Playoff race wide open in 7-AAA
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I’ve never really been all that good at solving word problems.

I never could figure out whether Train A beat Train B to Cincinnati or if little Johnny had more change in his pockets then little Suzie.

But the word problem that I was recently asked to solve could be the hardest thing I’ve ever had to figure out in my life (that, and what exactly I can do without my wife yelling at me).

The problem put before me was figuring out which teams will and which teams won’t make the state soccer playoffs from Area 7-AAA.

At first I thought it would be easy to figure out, but boy was I wrong.

What I do know is that five teams (four girls and one boys team) have already clinched a playoff berth. North Hall’s girls and Flowery Branch’s boys are both in due to the fact that they won the region championship.

The other three girls teams (Flowery Branch, Chestatee and Gainesville) are also assured of a trip to the playoffs, but where those three teams will end up in the standings is anybody’s guess.

With their win against Lumpkin County on Saturday, the Lady Falcons (11-5, 8-1) appear to be in the driver’s seat to lock up the No. 2 seed in the region. Flowery Branch has already defeated Gainesville (3-2 on Feb. 29) and will have to win its final game of the year on Wednesday to secure a home playoff game.

But that final game is against Chestatee (10-7, 7-2) which also will be playing in its final area game of the year and fighting for a home playoff game.

Now, this is where it gets confusing.

(WARNING: If you suffer from migraines, chronic headaches or are easily confused, just go ahead and stop reading this column now. I won’t take offense. From here on out the scenarios that could decide the seedings for the girls could make you lose your mind. Just thought I would warn you.)

Here goes.

If Gainesville (11-4, 7-2) defeats White County today and Chestatee defeats Flowery Branch on Wednesday then there will be a three-way tie for the No. 2 seed.

Since each team will hold the first tiebreaker (head-to-head matchups) over another team, the No. 2 seed will be decided by goals allowed in head-to-head competition.

We don’t know how many goals will be scored in the Lady Falcons/Lady War Eagles game, but Gainesville allowed a total of four goals against Chestatee and Flowery Branch. Both the Lady Falcons and the Lady War Eagles surrendered two goals to Gainesville earlier in the season, so that means the two schools would have to allow less than one goal in their match up on Wednesday.

If the final score is anything other than 1-0 than the No. 2 seed will be decided by goal differential in head-to-head competition. All of the games played so far were decided by one goal, so let’s skip this step.

What will determine the final girls standing is the total goals allowed in area games. So far, Gainesville has allowed 10, Flowery Branch has allowed 11 and Chestatee has allowed 12. If the Lady Red Elephants shut out White County, they will secure the No. 2 seed. If not, then it will all come down to Wednesday night’s showdown between the Branch and Chestatee.

My prediction? Gainesville shuts out White County 3-0, but Flowery Branch takes down Chestatee 4-1 and secures a home playoff game. Gainesville ends up as the No. 3 seed and Chestatee ends up in fourth.

Head hurt yet? Just wait, we’ve only just begun.

Aside from the fifth-ranked Falcons, who won their second area title in three years with a 3-2 win at Lumpkin County on Saturday, no other boys team knows whether or not its soccer season will continue after this week.

Lumpkin County (11-2, 6-2), North Hall (8-4-1, 6-3), Johnson (8-8, 6-4), East Hall (10-5, 5-4), Gainesville (7-7-1, 5-4) and West Hall (7-7-2, 4-4) all are still in contention for the three remaining playoff berths. And, with the exception of the Knights, who have no more remaining area games left on the schedule, all will be fighting for their playoff lives this week.

Out of those six teams, only the Vikings and Red Elephants have games against non-playoff bound opponents, and if both teams win, then they will be tied with Johnson with a 6-4 area record.

Despite being ranked No. 13 in the state, Lumpkin County has the toughest road to reach the playoffs. Their final two games are on the road and on back-to-back days, when they travel to West Hall on Tuesday and North Hall on Wednesday. The Indians will also be forced to play those games without two key players, who were red-carded during Lumpkin County’s loss to the Falcons on Saturday.

With that in mind, I think the Indians drop their final two games and end up with a 6-4 record like Gainesville, Johnson and East Hall.

Assuming West Hall beats Gilmer today (which is a pretty much a given that they will seeing the Bobcats are 0-9 in the area) and the Spartans beat Lumpkin County on Tuesday, then West Hall will enter the logjam at 6-4 and create a five-way tie for the final two remaining playoff spots.

I say two, because if North Hall beats Lumpkin County on Wednesday, then the Trojans will lock up the No. 2 seed, and like their female counterparts, will be playing at home during the playoffs.

(Warning: If you are still reading this and if you thought figuring out the girls’ situation hurt your head, then you have no idea. Trying to figure out who will make it on the boys side will pretty much make your head explode.)

First the five-way tie comes down to head-to-head match ups.

Johnson holds the tiebreaker over Gainesville (and North Hall if need be); East Hall holds the tiebreaker over Johnson, Lumpkin County and West Hall; Gainesville holds the tiebreaker over East Hall, West Hall, and if need be, North Hall; West Hall holds the tiebreaker over Johnson; Lumpkin County holds the tiebreaker over Chestatee, Gainesville and Johnson; and if it comes down to a six-way tie with North Hall involved, then the Trojans hold the tiebreaker over East Hall and West Hall.

Like the girls, this one’s coming down to goals allowed in area games, where West Hall and Lumpkin County hold the edge right now with nine goals allowed. North Hall and Gainesville each gave up 10, East Hall surrendered 16 and Johnson gave up 17.

With one area game left for the Trojans, Vikings and Red Elephants and two left for Lumpkin County and West Hall anything can happen.

I already said I think North Hall will take the No. 2 seed, and the five-way tie will happen. It will all come down to goals allowed; I’m giving the edge to the teams with only one game remaining. Without going into too much detail, Gainesville and East Hall will take the final two spots, with Gainesville going in as the No. 3 seed and the Vikings as the No. 4 seed.

So there you have it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to lie down and rest because after all that my head is killing me.

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