MPA Soccer Committee will discuss a way to help small schools who are struggling to field soccer teams.

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 9:54 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Enrollment continues to dwindle in small schools across the state and that means that some teams are struggling to fill soccer rosters. Several schools are struggling with low roster numbers. Some teams play shorthanded every night because they have fewer then 11 student-athletes suiting up for games. The Maine Principals Association Soccer Committee has scheduled a meeting for to talk about a proposal similar to eight man football to give schools struggling with numbers a chance to continue to compete in small sided soccer.

Mike Bisson:” What we are seeing are a number of schools trying to keep soccer alive with the use of 8th graders for the very small schools to cooperative teams and playing co-ed. Many are just trying to get by with a season playing nine versus eleven.”

Soccer has been a very popular fall sports throughout the state. With smaller enrollments filling a roster has been a challenge for some smaller schools. The MPA is looking at the success of another sport to see if that will help some school be able to continue to field a team. The MPA has seen the success of 8-man football from participation, competition and safety standpoints. Bisson says the meeting is a single item agenda to address the small roster sizes. They have several things to work through to make the concept work.

Bisson:” You can start a game with as little as seven, but as soon as you go below that the game is over. We are looking at eight, does nine solve the issue. We know there are teams right now trying to play with ten or nine kids so maybe eight is the magic number. I know that is not perfect soccer coaches like to have an odd number to work with. We are going to talk through all the issues and survey schools for feedback.”

Another issue could be scheduling games with opponents in your area

Bisson:” Part of the conversation, can that one school playing small sided and one school that still plays eleven man, can they get together and play games and have those count in the heal points. Play small sided would that still count in the 11 man standings.”

The Katahdin Girls soccer team is one of the squads who are playing shorthanded every night. They have just 9 girls on the roster. Athletic Director Dylan Harris says that numbers in small schools fluctuate from year to year and this proposal could save some programs

(Dylan Harris):” Right now we are playing two or three men down with our girls team. Even other teams in our school the number fluctuate year by year. We never really know how many we are going to have. Small-sided numbers would help us out.”

The meeting is a chance for the committee to think outside the box and give some teams a chance to keep their programs alive

Bisson:” Keep soccer alive in a number of schools. The soccer committee is committed to making this happen hopefully by next year.”