Top Soccer Team Booted From Playoffs for Odd Technicality
It’s that exciting time in Western New York, where the best girls soccer teams are getting all revved up to compete in the upcoming regional playoffs. And no team was more excited than Holland High, that is, until their hopes were dashed, and they learned that they have been disqualified on a pretty insignificant technicality, or so it would seem to most of us. But apparently not to the New York state officials who refused to budge.
Usually a ban of this nature might be chalked up to some kind conduct unbecoming to a team, but that can certainly not be said of these girls. According to their coaches, this is a group of young women who take school and soccer seriously. No members have ever spent any part of a school day in detention, they have never gotten in trouble for drinking on the weekends, and they have completed the whole regular season without earning even one yellow card. On top of all of that, in their regular season they had a 15-2 record. Not bad, right?
So, what gives, you might be asking? What is keeping the Dutchwomen from going on to regional playoffs? This may sound really bizarre, but the technicality which got them booted was that they played one game too many! Terrible, right?
Apparently, two years ago New York state officials restricted all varsity schedules to 16 games in an effort to cut costs. And apparently, the Holland High School athletic department did make the mistake of scheduling a 17th game. But is it fair, even though the regulation states that any team which plays more than the 16 allowed games is deemed ineligible for state competition, to punish the girls for a clerical mistake made by the athletic department?
Well, the athletic department and the principal of Holland High School didn’t think it seemed fair at all, and following due process, they petitioned the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to overturn their decision. However, in a teleconference on Tuesday, the appeal was denied, and the decision stands, leaving the Dutchwomen out in the cold.
Section VI Girls Soccer Chairman Chris Durr told the Buffalo News, “Unfortunately a mistake was made and the consequences are severe. I know it was an honest mistake, not something they tried to do. They had a great team, great players; they went to regionals last year and had a great team coming back.” But the answer remained, no!
A very somber James Biryla, Holland High School’s principal, told WGRZ News, “On this cold and rainy night, I am saddened to say that all of our efforts and our appeal to the State Athletic Association, our appeal was denied. Which essentially means that’s the end of the line and our girls will not be playing soccer in post season play today.”
Biryla explained that the girls and their parents were being told the distressing news by their coaches and other administrators at the same time that he was making the official news announcement.
When asked if Biryla felt there was a lesson in all of this, he replied, “I’m hoping that the lesson is that maybe the state would look to see how they put out their consequences. For our students to take the punishment for the clerical, adult error, it’s just not fair, and I think that was one thing that the state did reflect to us, that maybe they need to look at that piece of the rules and the consequences.”
Unfortunately, it’s the end of the line for the Dutchwomen, no matter how unfair the decision seems; a decision which couldn’t help but leave these girls feeling frustrated and hurt. “We don’t blame anyone, we just want to play,” Holland player Candis Kapuscinski told WGRZ.
And her teammate, Katherine Shanahan told the NBC affiliate, “I can’t express how much I want to play with them and take this to the state finals.”
Sad news for a team that has worked so hard! I’m not sure that they are getting any positive lesson from the decision right now, but clearly this is about following the letter of the law or all your hard work is for naught. Unfortunately, the girls are paying the price for something that was out of their control for a regulation which they probably didn’t even know about, making this decision very hard to swallow.