Playoff Predictions - Premier Division

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Playoff Predictions - Premier Division

Post  Raider9726 on Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:25 am

Premier is a unique division in that there's really nothing you need to play for in the playoffs, as there's no promotion on the line, but the pride and competitive nature of being able to say "We're the best in the BDSL" combats that thought and makes for probably the most heated playoff tournament the entire league has to offer.  I've got a lot of friends on different teams in this division and when we discuss things over the winter, or in season or whenever, there's always that slight undertone from both ends of the conversation that suggest, "look, we're better than you are".  What better chance to prove it than this little tournament.

Premier Division

#6 Celtic United (5-5-1) at #3 BSC Raiders (7-1-3)
Pre-season Predictions: Celtic United to finish 6th (nods with approval), Raiders to finish 2nd

What a disaster for United!  They really dropped the ball in week 11 with a loss to FC Yemen, because they certainly would have been in the 5/4 game against probably a more equal foe.  But consider this now: Even if they do defeat Raiders in round 1, they are guaranteed a date with the Sharpshooters in the semi finals.  And whichever team they potentially meet in the final is obviously not a slouch, so good luck with that uphill battle.  Meanwhile on the other side, Raiders are not receiving a first round bye.  Huh?!?!  It looks so weird to me, as I glance at the Table, to see Raiders on that line, especially since they've only lost once.  But, it was a self-inflicted wound.  As SoHo defeated everyone this year by 1 or 2 goals, Raiders dropped points in games that you'd think they'd win.  They were only able to muster 1 out of Queenston, they held a 4 goal lead against BUSS and that wasn't enough safety for three points, and they drew Elite, although on that day I think the personnel Raiders had on hand wasn't their most ideal (and by that I mean, they only had probably 14 former FC Buffalo players in attendance, not 20).  United have been really solid this season.  Take away the first 3 weeks of May and you're looking at a team who is 9-2-1 in all competitions.  They do rely on specific players though; Schulz, DiVirgilio and particularly Berardi, to have a hand in the offense.  Meanwhile Raiders boast the best striker in WNY in McFayden.  I think the Raiders will be a little too much for United, but this scoreline is misleading as I think United will hold their own, as they have all season against the top end clubs.

Prediction: BSC Raiders 3, Celtic United 1

#5 Yemen Elite (4-3-4) at #4 Clarence (6-4-1)
Pre-Season Predictions: Yemen Elite to finish 4th, Clarence to finish 9th

If you don't want to spend the time finding my pre-season discussion on Clarence, I'll explain that although I placed them 9th, they had top half of the table abillity if the team simply wouldn't mail it in like they did last year.  With that in mind I said they'd likely finish in 4th or 5th.  Look where they are!  This is real Clarence, not fake Clarence of 2015.  And this is Yemen Elite, the team that keeps showing up to Clarence Town Hall every week to play the Coyotes.  Are you guys going to make this a routine?  Because I'll keep showing up and watching, considering the proximity to my house.  Elite has had a truly special season by the way.  This team was 0-2-2 but they stayed the course.  When you pluck guys from all over and try to make them work as a team, sometimes it takes time.  Sometimes it takes more than just a 50 minute Sahlen's Indoor campaign on a weekly basis.  They figured it out halfway through and didn't look back.  What's slightly concerning to me about Elite now that we've reached the playoffs is that they haven't really won many games outright.  They're 4-3-4.  Four times they got 3 points.  So now you're asking them to get 3 wins in as many weeks.  Not sure if that's realistic.  Clarence will be without Katz for the duration of the playoffs as he's sitting for his 2nd red in the same season.  This shouldn't be too much of an issue now that Clarence has bolstered their back four with the addition of LaFlore.  I'm expecting this game to be just like the others lately.  Clarence will hold the majority of possession but Elite will have a couple near-misses, easily the best chances during regulation.  Two teams determined to win, but go scoreless for at least 90 minutes.  Boughton with the OT winner from Hughes. Both of those guys are always influential for Clarence, so in some way, shape or form, they'll be involved heavily.

Prediction: Clarence 1, Yemen Elite 0 OT

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Semi-Finals

#4 Clarence at #1 Amherst Sharpshooters (8-1-2)
Pre-season Prediction for Sharpshooters: 1st

I'm really not surprised at all by Amherst finishing atop the table.  This is a complete team, but what has surprised me is their lack of dominance on the score sheet.  I guess this is being really nit-picky, but I would have thought they'd have more lopsided scores over the course of the season.  But perhaps that's just telling about how strong the Premier Division is from top to bottom.  Anyone ever watch Rogue play?  They might get relegated?!?!?!  Anyway, this all comes down to the Sharpshooters and their willingness to finish.  On paper, a team with Brodfuehrer, Loncar, T. Lawler and Steele as forwards/goal scorers who occupy the top of the field, is amazingly lethal.  But they can't all play together at the same time nor all go 90 minutes so they can't all have astounding statistical seasons.  When two teams merge where both teams had their own 11v11 style and comfort level of play, it can be hard to mesh that together, initially.  Clarence on the other hand look like they've been attached at the hip all season.  I've taken in quite a few Clarence games this season, and I see the same thing all the time.  They work well together, hustle, and have much much more skill than often given credit for.  Lenny's got to be on top of his game in order for Clarence to have a chance.  The Coyotes however, seem to have the Sharpshooters' number as of late.  But, since this one is on Amherst's home turf, I give them a slight edge.  Brendan Lawler opens up his account on a signature scorcher from 25' out, proving to be the game winner.  2-1 Sharpshooters.


#3 BSC Raiders at #2 SoHo FC (8-2-1)
Pre-season Prediction for SoHo: 5th

As the years go by, Raiders and Soho remain the same.  Twenty years from now, as many of these players from both sides sit in each other's back yards, they're going to reminisce about the BDSL and some of the quality and/or funny moments.  It'll go a little something like this:

Sully: Hey Wads, you remember the time you cleated Cory Cwiklinski and the ref gave you a yellow but you argued with him that it should've been a red? That was hilarious!

Wads: Haha, I wanted to go home early that day, I had better sh!t to do with my Sunday evening.  You remember back in '07 when Butch scored on your own net?

Steve: I don't recall that you moron.

Frank: No, I do, it was me, back in 1996.

Matt Stu: No it was 2007.

Frank: I'm positive it was '96.

Sengbusch: Definitely 2007.  Unless you also did it in '96, but I wouldn't know, I'm still in my 50's....

Sully: Ohhhhhh!

Frank: Garrett, I'm one year older than you.  We played at UB together what are you talking about?

These are the kind of problems these teams will have.  Their collective consistent winning will certainly blend years together, so this should be another great contest.  Raiders have gotten the better of SoHo twice this season, and I think it'll happen a third time, but the game will be closely contested.  SoHo just has a way of staying in games - I'm really not sure how they do it sometimes, as I've walked away now three times in the last three years thinking our mid-table side can always grab 3 points, but we've only walked away victorious once and it took penalties to do it.  Over/under 9.5 yellow cards will be distibuted in this one.  Derkacz should be eligible to return for this game as well, making Raiders' best 11 that much more dangerous.

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Final

#3 BSC Raiders at #1 Amherst Sharpshooters

Both of these teams meet in the final for the second consecutive year.  Both teams played marginal soccer for their standards over the past month, but end up here regardless.  Amherst should play a smart enough game to disrupt Raiders.  I don't think we'll see a 4-3 affair like we did in late May, especially in the way it went down (4-0 lead cut to 4-3 by game's end), but I think Steele will be very much a part of why Amherst hoists their first ever Premier trophy. 2-1 final.  All goals scored in the first half, Amherst absorbs Raiders pressure over the final 45.

Predicted champion: Amherst Sharpshooters
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