In this Oct. 8 photo, Hodgdon's Jeremiah Goff (left) kicks the ball past East Grand's Gabe O'Brien during a soccer game in Hodgdon. Aroostook County athletic directors have set up a playoff and championship system for high school soccer. (Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times)

HOULTON, Maine — Aroostook County will be able to crown boys and girls soccer champions this fall after all.

One week after the Maine Principals’ Association declined to give County teams a waiver to the state’s 10-game maximum for soccer, athletic directors for the Aroostook League have come up with an alternative approach.

Instead of using a traditional playoff format with quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, the top four teams in each of two divisions will square off in a championship bracket. The remaining teams in seeds 5-8 will also play in a consolation bracket, according to Tim Watt, athletic director for SAD 20 in Fort Fairfield.

Cliff Urquhart, the athletic director at Southern Aroostook Community School in Dyer Brook, said County athletic directors felt it was important to offer some sort of playoff format for the players and coaches as an extra incentive during these difficult times.

“It gives some clarity to players and coaches, and gives them a goal,” Urquhart said. “Otherwise, we are just out there scrimmaging. They are actually playing for something and if teams ever needed any extra motivation it’s needed this year.”

The Aroostook League originally came up with an eight-game regular season, with plans for three rounds of postseason play. That meant a championship game would have been the 11th game for teams, which is something the MPA was not willing to accommodate.

The 10 regular-season game limit for soccer was prompted by COVID-19 safety protocols and is four games fewer than a normal regular season. The MPA canceled regional playoff games and state championship contests for soccer and field hockey, so no state champions will be crowned this year.

County athletic directors originally planned to meet via Zoom on Wednesday to hash out a plan, but instead decided via emails on the altered playoff approach.

Urquhart said there has not been an Aroostook County playoff and championship for many years, possibly dating back to the 1970s or ’80s.

The girls semifinal games will be played Oct. 29, with the championship slated for Nov. 4. The boys semifinals are set for Oct. 30, with the championship scheduled for Nov. 5.

The Aroostook League divided teams into two groups this year — Division I for larger high schools and Division II for smaller schools. Teams in Division I are Hodgdon, Caribou, Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, Presque Isle, Madawaska, Fort Kent, Houlton and Fort Fairfield. Teams in Division II are Ashland, Wisdom of St. Agatha, Katahdin of Stacyville, Washburn, Southern Aroostook, Easton, East Grand of Danforth and Van Buren.

With two divisions, two boys teams and two girls squads will be crowned as Aroostook County champions. Championship trophies will also be presented to the winning teams, with the County athletic directors agreeing to cover the expense.

Ties in the standings will be decided first by head-to-head records, then common opponents defeated and, if necessary, a coin toss.

The standings as of Thursday, Oct. 15, were as follows:

Division I Boys — Hodgdon 5-0, Caribou 5-0, CAHS 3-1, Presque Isle 3-1, Madawaska 3-1, Fort Kent 2-3, Houlton 1-4, Fort Fairfield 0-3.

Division 1 Girls — Fort Kent 5-0, Caribou 4-1, Hodgdon 3-1-1, Fort Fairfield 3-1, CAHS 2-2, Houlton 2-3-1, Madawaska 1-3, Presque Isle 2-3.

Division II Boys — Ashland 4-0, Wisdom 4-1, Katahdin 4-2, Washburn 2-3, Southern Aroostook 2-4, Easton 1-4, East Grand 1-6, Van Buren 0-6.

Division II Girls — Van Buren 4-1, Easton 4-1, Ashland 2-2, Katahdin 2-4, Wisdom 2-3, Southern Aroostook 2-3, Washburn 0-4, East Grand 0-6.