Travel Team Seasons & Playoffs
Travel League Structure
A soccer year consists of a fall season followed by a spring season. NASA travel teams are built using evaluation scores, previous coach feedback, and other sources such that teams are made up of players with similar abilities. This is done to fit the ECYSA (Essex County Youth Soccer) and MYSA (Massachusetts Youth Soccer) structure of age groups and divisions.
Once all the NASA teams have been built for the fall season, the NASA Boys’ and Girls’ Travel Directors (TD’s) must build strength reports for all of the NASA teams. These reports include, how many players are on the roster, the grades of each player, how many players also play club soccer, where each team stacks in a particular age group (i.e., the third G6 Boys’ team out of 6 NASA G6 Boys’ teams), head coach’s feedback, and other details.
Every city and town in ECYSA (currently 34 towns), must submit the same team strength reports for all of their teams as well. ECYSA then goes through all of these reports for each age group and gender and creates a ranked list. Based on how many teams are in a particular age group (i.e., G6 Boys), ECYSA will decide how many competitive groupings to make, with each group usually, but not always, having 6 or 8 teams in it. The idea is that all the teams in each group are of a similar playing level. After ECYSA has ranked and grouped the teams, they then place them in divisions and those are, in ranked order, as follows: MTOC-1, MTOC-2, County-1, and County-2. Accordingly, each NASA team’s competitive assignment will have a division assignment and a group assignment. (i.e. MTOC-1, Group 3)
Having to sort multiple teams from 34 cities and towns is a daunting task and, inevitably, a team can be misassigned and may be too strong or too weak for a group. For this reason, there are no playoffs during the fall season. When ranking teams for the spring season, ECYSA takes into consideration a team’s fall season record as well as goals for and goals against. The NASA TD’s also submit team strength reports again to inform ECYSA of any significant roster changes that happened from the fall season to the spring season. In the instances where a team is misplaced during the fall season, they will either be moved up or down a group so that they can be competitive with teams of similar abilities for the spring season. Even when a NASA team is moved up or down, it is never swapped with another NASA team - NASA teams will always play in their NASA ranked order. This process should yield groupings for the spring season that are relatively competitive (i.e. all team within MTOC- 2, Group- 1 should be of a similar level)
In addition to the 8-games played during the spring season, there are playoffs for every division. The top 2-teams in every group (i.e. MTOC 1, Group 3), qualify for the ECYSA playoffs, commonly referred to by players as“Pingree” due to the location at which it is held. Within each of the divisions (MTOC -1, MTOC- 2, County- 1, etc) the qualifying teams will play in a single elimination tournament to determine the ECYSA Champion for that division. For the MTOC-1 and MTOC-2 Champions, winning ECYSA Playoffs (Pingree) qualifies them for the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions (MTOC). (County teams cannot qualify for the MTOC tournament.) This tournament is always held over the last weekend in June at MYSA’s facility in Lancaster.