With the 2015 regular season all but in the books, the playoffs loom, and six teams already are planning for their first-round games on Tuesday by virtue of claiming their leagues’ automatic playoff berth. Area coaches will meet Sunday morning to decide at-large teams and to seed teams for the US Lacrosse Southern Section North bracket, but these six leagues receive automatic invitations for their champions:
UPDATE: We are told the Bay League tie-breaking procedure is not as clear as we indicated when we posted this originally. Consequently, we have edited the Bay League paragraph to (hopefully) clarify.
Bay League: No. 2 Palos Verdes (13-5) or No. 4 Peninsula (15-2). Both finished 5-1 in league, with their only losses to each other. Peninsula beat PV 5-4 in overtime, but the Sea Kings beat Peninsula 13-7 on Wednesday. That split makes the two rivals co-champs, but the league’s tie-breaker would have to determine the automatic playoff spot. Many leagues use goal differential in head-to-head meetings, which would give the edge to PV, but it’s unclear how the Bay will break the tie.
Mission League: No. 1 Loyola (14-3) clinched the league title a few weeks back, but Thursday they wrapped up an undefeated league record with a wild 15-14 win over Harvard Westlake. Last year the Cubs and Wolverines were co-champs, but Harvard Westlake earned the automatic by virtue of two head-to-head wins over Loyola. This year, the Cubs left no doubt.
Marmonte League: After Wednesday’s 17-8 loss at Thousand Oaks, it appeared No. 3 Westlake (14-1) would have to share the league title with No. 5 Thousand Oaks, and the head-to-head split and goal-differential would have given the automatic berth to the Lancers. But Thousand Oaks surrendered a 5-1 halftime lead Friday at Newbury Park and lost 7-6. That gave the league title and automatic playoff spot to Westlake.
City League: No. 15 Palisades (15-3) all but wrapped up the City title with a come-from-behind win at Birmingham a week ago, and the Dolphins clinched it this week with three more wins to finish 11-0 in league play. In fact, Palisades hasn’t lost a City League game since the inception of the league in the 2009 season — a streak of 70 consecutive wins against City opponents.
Ocean League: Last year, No. 20 El Segundo (12-4) upgraded from club level to full-fledged CIF and played as an independent, going 5-6. This year, the Eagles joined the Ocean League, and Friday they beat defending champion Culver City for the second time this season to finish 8-0 in league play and claim the title and automatic bid.
Gold Coast League: This league formed in the offseason, when Brentwood left the Mission League and joined Sierra Canyon, Malibu and Viewpoint. No. 19 Sierra Canyon (13-3) won the inaugural league championship and automatic playoff berth, clinching it Thursday with an 11-8 win over Brentwood, the Trail Blazers’ second win over the Eagles this season.
Congratulations to the automatic qualifiers. Stay tuned Sunday for the announcement of the full playoff field and first-round pairings.