There wasn't much separating the top three teams in the Madison Soccer Association's Division 1 competition this year, with the Madison Fire, Deportivo and Madison United Premier all winning seven of 12 regular-season games.
The Fire (7-1-4) head into the playoffs as the top seed, and will face Team Paradigm (5-4-3) in the last of four MSA semifinals Sunday at Warner Park Field 1.
Paradigm are the two-time defending champions, having beaten the Fire 2-1 in the final in each of the past two seasons. The Fire, who have played in seven of the past eight championship games (winning four times), knocked off Paradigm 3-1 in their most recent meeting July 22.
The first Division 1 semifinal pits second-seeded Deportivo against No. 3 seed Madison United, teams that had identical 7-3-2 records in the regular season. United prevailed 3-1 when the teams squared off Aug. 26.
In Division 2, the defending champion Wisconsin Wizards (11-6-2) are seeded second and will take on third-seeded Epic FC (11-6-2) in the semifinals. The Wizards lost their first three matches of the fall season, including a 2-0 loss to Epic on July 22, but are unbeaten in their past eight (7-0-1).
The top seed in Division 2 is FC Metro (11-2-7), which is 6-1-4 this fall – though that lone loss was an 8-0 rout at the hands of the Wizards on Sept. 9.
Metro's semifinal opponent will be determined in a play-in game between fourth-seeded Sporting 1836 (10-6-4) and Madison United Juniors (10-6-4) on Saturday at Daleo Fields in the Town of Westport. Sporting blanked the Juniors 2-0 on Aug. 5, but United posted a 1-0 victory in a regular-season finale last Friday night.
The finals in both divisions are scheduled for Friday, Oct. 19, also at Warner 1.