It seems anything goes when it comes to women's soccer in the Big South.
The conference made NCAA Division I history when the 2010 women's soccer regular season ended on Saturday with a five-way tie for first place. Winthrop, Radford, Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern and High Point all finished with 6-2-1 records in conference play.
It turns out no conference has crowned more than three regular season women's soccer champions; ever.
Winthrop earned the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big South Women's Soccer Championship after the league's tie-breaking procedure. The Eagles will face No. 8 VMI at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Radford's Patrick D. Cupp Memorial Stadium.
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The conference followed tie-breaking steps according to the league's policy manual to determine the seeds. The tie-breaking formula is:
1. Conference total points; 2. Head to head competition between all the teams with equal points; 3. Point system, 3a. 4 points for wins over teams with more Conference points, 3b. 3 points for wins over teams with less Conference points, 3c. 2 points for ties over teams with more Conference points, 3d. 1 point for ties over teams with less Conference points, 3e. 0 points for losses; 4. Goals against (Conference play); 5. Goals for minus goals against; 6. Toss of coin by Commissioner's office.
The conference only had to perform two steps to determine the seeds.
Winthrop and Radford had the best head-to-head record at 2-1-1. Winthrop beat Radford to earn the top seed. Radford took the No. 2 seed.
Coastal Carolina had the next best record at 2-2-0 to take the three seed. Then Charleston Southern and High Point were tied 1-2-1. CSU defeated High Point and were awarded the fourth seed.
Winthrop junior midfielder Rachel Webster is majoring in elementary and middle level math education. Surely she could furnish the probability of a 10-team conference, like the Big South, crowning five champions.
Webster muttered some fractions, used "to the power of" math jargon at practice on Monday afternoon and then decided, "That's pretty nuts. I can't help you with that one."
Winthrop coach Spencer Smith wasn't much help either.
"If she can't figure it out, I know I can't," Smith added.
Ties of more than two teams are rare. There have only been nine three-way ties in NCAA Division I women's soccer history: The Colonial Athletic Conference (twice, 2000, 2001); Conference USA (1997); Ivy League (2001); Mountain West Conference (1999); Pac 10 (1998); Southern Conference (2001); Atlantic Sun (1997); and Southeastern Conference (1997).
"Maybe we shouldn't crown all five teams," Big South Conference commissioner Kyle Kallander joked, "We're breaking the bank having to buy four more trophies."
This year's oddity comes on the heels of the strange 2009 conference tournament in which the lower seeds won every game until the championship match when No. 7 High Point beat No. 8 Winthrop.
"We haven't talked about last year's tournament yet,' Smith said. "We do not want to see a repeat of that."