In the end, parsing out the top four seeds in the Section 1AA boys soccer playoffs was likely an impossible task.

Faribault possessed the best record against section opponents and wins against both of Winona and Austin, but also lost against Byron and finished with the lowest Quality Results Formula (QRF) rating according to minnesota-scores.net.

Austin beat Winona, but lost to Faribault and Byron in the last two weeks of the season, while Byron lost to Winona and beat Austin and Faribault while enjoying a more palatable conference slate in the Hiawatha Valley League compared to its Big 9 Conference counterparts.

Winona ended up grabbing the top seed despite a 1-2 record against the rest of the top four, perhaps thanks to non-section wins against Mankato East, Mankato West, Owatonna and Northfield.

Either way, all four teams were dealt a first-round home game. Assuming all goes to plan in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, those four teams will also have a chance to settle any seeding frustrations on the field in the semifinals and championship game.

Winona starts Tuesday night against Red Wing, Byron hosts Albert Lea, Faribault battles Waseca and Austin takes on Kasson-Mantorville.

From a Faribault perspective, the seeding was a mixed bag. On the positive spectrum, the Falcons secured one of the top three seeds, which delivers a quarterfinal matchup against one of the bottom three teams in the section that have all struggled this season. Faribault has also already beaten Waseca 3-1 in the second game of the season.

The seeding also delivered a potential semifinal match against Byron, however, the one Section 1AA team to beat Faribault this season. The Bears claimed a 3-1 victory in Byron on Sept. 20.

Any path to a section championship and a trip to state also likely means the Falcons need to win twice on the road, barring an unlikely upset of Byron by Albert Lea or the more plausible scenario of Austin beating Winona in the other semifinal.

If both Byron and Austin take care of business, however, the Falcons need back-to-back road wins after finishing 1-6 on the road during the regular season, with the one win a 7-0 drubbing of Red Wing.

Byron, meanwhile, is 5-1 at home this season and closed the season by winning nine of its final 11 games.

Listed below is a statistical look at each of the eight teams in the Section 1AA playoffs, listed in descending seed order.

No. 1 Winona (10-5-1)

Section record: 4-2

QRF ranking: No. 13

Last five matches: 2-3

Goals for: 45

Goals against: 22

No. 2 Byron (9-5-1)

Section record: 4-1

QRF ranking: No. 26

Last five matches: 5-0

Goals for: 45

Goals against: 19

No. 3 Faribault (7-9)

Section record: 6-1

QRF ranking: No. 32

Last five matches: 2-3

Goals for: 37

Goals against: 38

No. 4 Austin (6-6-3)

Section record: 3-2

QRF ranking: No. 27

Last five matches: 2-3

Goals for: 26

Goals against: 30

No. 5 Kasson-Mantorville (8-6-2)

Section record: 1-3

QRF ranking: No. 41

Last five matches: 2-3

Goals for: 24

Goals against: 24

No. 6 Waseca (2-13-1)

Section record: 0-1

QRF ranking: No. 54

Last five matches: 1-3-1

Goals for: 18

Goals against: 62

No. 7 Albert Lea (2-13-1)

Section record: 0-3-1

QRF ranking: No. 58

Last five matches: 0-4-1

Goals for: 13

Goals against: 74

No. 8 Red Wing (0-14-1)

Section record: 0-5-1

QRF ranking: No. 61

Last five matches: 0-4-1

Goals for: 2

Goals against: 77

Reach Regional Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @APGSoMnHughes. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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