Prep Soccer Update: The CIF Breakdown for High School Soccer – Spotlight on San Diego Soccer
High School soccer CIF Championship rules can be confusing. How does it all work? Our Prep Soccer Update columnist Carey Schumacher cracks the code.
The Southern California competitive club soccer season is in its final weeks, and for thousands of high school soccer players who do not play for the U.S Soccer Development Academy, this means prep soccer will soon be here.
U.S Soccer Development Academy are not allowed to play High School soccer.
Tens of thousands of high School youth soccer club and recreational soccer players come together from late-November to late-February to battle for school pride and bragging rights — all in a quest to earn that elusive and prestigious “CHAMPIONS” patch on the letterman’s jacket.
Every state in the USA has a State Athletic organization governing high school sports, but because of California’s size and varying climates, California is split into ten sections under “CIF” (California Interscholastic Federation).
The Northern and Central sections of CIF play soccer as a Fall or Spring sport. Prep (high school) soccer in Southern California and San Diego plays as a winter sport.
The governing body for San Diego high school athletics is SDCIFS — San Diego CIF Section.
SDCIFS rules state that once a high school’s soccer season has begun, players can not participate in club soccer activities, so players who choose to play prep soccer take a break from their club soccer teams while playing soccer for their schools.
SDCIFS schools can begin soccer practices or tryouts on Saturday November 15th, 2014, and most schools will be holding their tryouts the following week (November 17-21).
During tryouts, club players can continue to practice and play games with their club teams, but once a player has played in a scrimmage or game with his/her high school team, that player is not allowed to return to club soccer until the high school season is over.
Once the high schools have finalized their youth soccer rosters and begun practicing together, the excitement begins with the first games of the season. This is when teams begin their quest for championships.
SDCIFS has organized high schools into conferences and leagues so that schools of varying sizes can all have a fair chance to win league championships.
There are eight conferences inside SDCIFS, and each conference decides how many leagues will make up the conference.
Each conference has 1-4 leagues, and there are 4-7 teams in each league. Leagues are usually grouped together based on location and school size.
Once a high school athletic director knows his/her school’s league placement, the staff goes to work setting up the soccer schedule. Games are scheduled with other teams in the area, and each school decides their schedule by communicating with other coaches and setting up games, being sure to schedule games against every other team in their league.
A great resource for Prep Soccer information and scheduling is Max Preps.
Every school will have a schedule online, and you will see games listed as “LEAGUE” or “NON-LEAGUE.” Results from “LEAGUE” games decide which team gets that patch on the letterman’s jacket and the banner hanging in the school gym. The league winner also gets a guaranteed spot in SDCIFS PLAYOFFS.
Once the regular season is over, SDCIFS playoffs begin.
SDCIFS has split high school teams into “playoff divisions” based on a five-year competitive history so that playoff competition is fair.
There are six SDCIFS playoff divisions: OPEN, D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. Playoff divisions can be found on the SDCIFS website.
Each league champion is guaranteed a spot in their division playoff, and the rest of the playoff spots are decided in an athletic administrators meeting at SDCIFS headquarters. After the playoff teams are decided and the schedule is set, SDCIF playoffs begin, ending with the exciting FINALS DAY at a local stadium where every final from every division is played.
The day culminates with the OPEN division finals for boys and girls. Each division champion gets the coveted CIF CHAMPS patches for their jacket.
Last year’s SDCIFS winners:
- Open girls: La Costa Canyon (LCC) beat Westview 1-0
- D1 girls: Cathedral Catholic beat Scripps Ranch 2-0
- D2 girls: Coronado beat Granite Hills 3-0
- D3 girls: High Tech High Chula Vista tied Helix 0-0, HTHCV won in PKs
- D4 girls: Serra beat High Tech High SD 1-0
- D5 girls: Del Lago Academy beat Preuss 1-0
- Open boys: Carlsbad beat Torrey Pines 2-1
- D1 boys: Southwest beat San Dieguito (SDA) 2-1 in overtime
- D2 boys: Coronado beat Rancho Bernardo 3-1
- D3 boys: Fallbrook beat Patrick Henry 2-1
- D4 boys: San Ysidro beat Hoover 3-1
- D5 boys: Gompers beat Crawford 2-0
Once CIFSDS playoffs are over, and the champions have their patches, SoCal “STATE” CIF championships begin.
SDCIFS decides playoff divisions based on a five-year competitive history, but Southern California CIF decides playoff divisions solely on school enrollment numbers. SDCIFS will send their best teams that fit into the SoCal enrollment divisions. Last season, SoCal CIF held championships for D1-D3.
That means a team that won a division in SDCIFS may have had too many students to qualify for the State Championships. For example, Hoover and San Ysidro made the SDCIFS D4 finals last year, but Gompers (the D5 winner) went to the SoCal State Championships because San Ysidro and Hoover had too many students to qualify for D3 SoCal Playoffs.
For the 2014-2015 season, SoCal CIF is adding more divisions to help avoid that from happening again.
Last year’s CIF State Champions:
- D1 girls: Westview HS beat Chino Hills 2-1
- D2 girls: Cathedral Catholic beat La Costa Canyon 2-1
- D3 girls: Francis Parker beat Marymount (from Santa Monica) 3-2
- D1 boys: Loyola (from LA) beat Carlsbad 2-1
- D2 boys: Southwest beat Royal (from Simi Valley) 3-1
- D3 boys: St Margaret’s (from San Juan Capistrano) beat Farmersville (near Visalia) 2-0
Best of luck to every prep soccer team this coming season! PSU wishes you a successful, injury-free, and fabulous high school season.
If you are a high school student interested in submitting stories & photos to PSU showing off your school’s soccer team, GET READY! They will be announcing their Prep Soccer Update student section very soon!