Thoughts and analysis of the first round of the CIF-Southern Section girls playoffs on Saturday:
*We received early confirmation of just how high the level of play was in Orange County this season, particularly in Division I. Eight of the 12 county teams entered in that bracket advanced. Two of those losses were inevitable, since the games involved two county teams.
*There were 25 county teams total that advanced to the second round - eight from Division I, five from Division II, five from Division III, two from Division IV, two from Division V and three from Division VI
*Coin flips determining second-round sites occurred today (Sunday) at the CIF-SS office. Here's how it works from this point forward: the team who has hosted fewer playoff games is automatically granted home field. If both teams have hosted the same number of playoff games, the site is determined by coin flip. This is what happened:
Division I: Irvine, Mater Dei and Trabuco Hills won flips and will host second-round games. Irvine is the only one of those teams who is playing another county team (San Clemente, who obviously lost that flip). Esperanza and Los Alamitos both lost flips and will go on the road. Aliso Niguel was automatically sent to Claremont, while Dana Hills will be home against Harvard Westlake.
Division II: El Modena won its flip. Brea Olinda lost. El Dorado is automatically home, while Tesoro and Northwood have road games.
Division III: Costa Mesa and Fullerton won flips, while Sunny Hills was not so lucky. Cypress is automatically at home, and Orange Lutheran is on the road.
Division IV: No flips involving county teams here. Century is hosting top seed Chadwick, and Santa Ana Valley heads to Rubidoux of Riverside.
Division V: Whittier Christian is automatically at home, and Pacifica won a coin flip.
Division VI: Two county teams (St. Margaret's and Connelly) will play in the second round. St. Margaret's won the coin flip. Sage Hill is going to Oakwood.
*A number of county teams seeded No. 3 or higher found themselves in first-round battles, but all prevailed. No. 1 seed Esperanza needed overtime to beat Woodbridge and No. 3 seed Los Alamitos got by Flintridge Sacret Heart, 3-2, in Division I. In Division II, the top three seeds - No. 1 Tesoro, No. 2 Brea Olinda and No. 3 Northwood - all recorded single-goal victories.
*Three games involving county teams were decided by either overtime or shootout, and county teams prevailed each time (although the Esperanza-Woodbridge game was between two county teams, so that would have happened regardless). Cypress and Century both won in shootouts. Cypress defeated Beverly Hills, while Century downed Bell Gardens.
*The biggest upset of the first round was Dana Hills' victory on the road over Santa Margarita, the No. 5-seeded team in Division I. However, the Dolphins have been playing at a high level against stellar competition all season, so this was not a complete surprise.
*Looking ahead, here are two excellent potential quarterfinal matchups involving two county teams: (I excluded instances where one county team would have to beat another county team to get to the quarterfinals): Trabuco Hills-Aliso Niguel and Northwood-El Dorado. Of course, the teams need to win second-round games to make these games realities.