Cougars Can Clinch West
The Stockton Cougars can clinch their first ever division championship with a win in Colorado against the Denver Dynamite on Saturday.
"A magic number isn't something we've ever talked about here in Cougar land; it's pretty exciting," said Cougars head coach Bernie Lilavois during a post-game interview last Thursday night at Stockton Arena. The Cougars defeated the Chico Bigfoot that night 13-8 and with that win their magic number to clinch the Western Division dropped to just one with two regular season games remaining.
longer coached by Chris Handsor, the Dynamite (7-6) is currently 2.5 games behind the Cougars (10-4) in the Western Division.
Majell Aterado, Ato Leone and Lilavois each had three goals in Stockton's 15-5 win against Denver earlier this season. The win, happening on November 22 at Stockton Arena, was the third PASL-Pro win of the season for the Cougars.
Handsor had two goals in the November 22 match, as did former Cougars' forward Garth Archibald. Handsor has since stepped down from his coaching role with the Dynamite. Archibald is still listed on the Denver roster.
The Dynamite has not played a match since defeating Colorado 9-6 on January 31. Saturday's match is their only scheduled game in February. The Cougars have already played four times in February.
A Stockton win also gives them a first round bye in the upcoming Professional Arena Soccer League Championship Tournament at Stockton Arena scheduled for mid-March. The Cougars have already qualified for the six team tournament. All that is left to be determined is where they are seeded among the remaining qualifiers.
Only two of the six total qualifiers have locked up their spot in the single elimination style tournament. The Cougars were the first team to qualify, while 1790 Cincinnati was the second. The remaining spots will be made up of one Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League (CMISL) team, two teams from Liga Mexicana de Futbol Rapido (LMFR) and the final spot will be awarded to the PASL-Pro wildcard winner.
If the season were to end today, then Cincinnati would hold the number one seed and Stockton would be number two. Both teams would earn a first round bye and would play on Saturday, March 14.
Still assuming Stockton wins the Western Division; the number three seed would then belong to the CMISL Champion (Edmonton currently holds a ½ game lead over Calgary). The team with the best regular season LMFR record would be seeded fourth and the fifth seed would belong to the PASL-Pro wild card winner (i.e. Denver, St. Louis or Texas). The sixth seed belongs to the next best LMFR team.
The three day tournament begins on March 13 at 5:00PM with the CMISL champion taking on a representative from LMFR. An opening ceremony consisting of national anthems and team introductions will begin at 7:00PM and the PASL-Pro awards ceremony starts at 7:20PM. The second game, placing the four seed against the wildcard winner, starts at 8:00PM.
The tournament continues on Saturday with two matches. The first begins at 5:00PM and puts the number two seed against the winner of Friday's first game. The second match is scheduled to begin at 7:30PM and it will see the number one seed take on either the fourth or fifth seeded team.
The championship match begins at 1:00PM on Sunday, March 15.
Tickets are available by calling (209) 373-1550, by visiting www.stocktontickets.com and by visiting the Alpine Meats ticket window outside Stockton Arena.
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