Things will not be so straightforward for Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference soccer teams when their seasons kick off Friday.

Unlike in years past, when the conference schedule was limited by classification — Class A teams playing Class A teams, Class B teams playing Class B teams — and conference play, this season, teams are playing a mixture all across the board.

The biggest effect will be felt by the Class B teams, who will either play crossovers against Class A teams or play a significant portion of their schedule against teams from the Penobscot Valley Conference in the north.

“It will be an interesting component this year,” Winslow boys coach Aaron Wolfe said recently.

Most simply put, the KVAC B teams were separated by geography, with a grouping of northern teams (i.e., Maine Central Institute, Nokomis) and southern teams (Erskine, Gardiner, Waterville, Winslow). Northern teams will play a schedule comprised largely of games against traditional KVAC B teams with a smaller portion of their schedule against PVC foes, while the southern teams will play KVAC B teams plus crossovers against KVAC A schools.

The matchups range from traditional Waterville-Winslow rivalry contests to stranger ones, such as MCI at Presque Isle or Lewiston at Maranacook.

As if the schedule changes weren’t enough, changes in classification have also confused things. Brewer’s teams have moved from KVAC A to KVAC B, while Maranacook’s boys and girls sides — though the school is still a KVAC member — will compete in the Class C tournament at season’s end, assuming they are to qualify through the Heal point standings.

The Black Bears won’t play a single Class C team during the regular season.

“The regular season will be a challenge,” Maranacook girls coach Travis Magnusson said. “We’re a Class C team that’s going to be playing some Class A schools. Every game is going to be a one-goal kind of game. That’s the way the league is. We’ve got to go in with the mentality that it’s going to be a tough 80 minutes every night.”

How the new scheduling will effect Heal point standings might be most difficult of all to predict.

With very little emphasis on classifications or strength of schedule anymore, Heal points generally reflect the records of a team’s individual opponents.

Good Class A teams with outstanding records might be more difficult for a Class B school to beat, but they offer plenty of Heal points; conversely, a weak Class A team — while still a stiff challenge for many Class B schools — offers very little in the way of Heal points for an upset-minded KVAC B squad.

“I think, KVAC-wise, it hurts us,” Erskine girls coach Ryan Nored said. “Those of us in the south play A teams, while those teams in the north don’t play any A schools and are playing PVC teams. It’s a situation where A teams are getting all of our south’s (B) Heal points.”

Though an anomaly, Maranacook teams remain a prime example of some of the unique matchups that potentially await at tournament time. The Black Bear girls, for instance, could hover around a .500 record, go into the postseason as a mid-pack team and be someone no Class C school wants to see earlier than the regional finals.

Magnusson and Black Bear boys coach Don Beckwith, whose team won consecutive Class C state titles in 2013 and 2014 under a similar alignment, are trying to look at the positives of a challenging regular season.

Iron, as the saying goes, sharpens iron.

“I think it helps you compete at a higher level,” Beckwith said. “If you want to be the best, you need to beat the best.”

Nored echoed a similar sentiment.

“We’ll just take what they give us,” Nored said in terms of scheduling. “To win it all you have to beat them all, anyway.”

Travis Barrett — 621-561

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[email protected]