A Florida boys soccer goalie is facing felony charges after a violent brawl at the end of a game culminated in a 10-person scrum that included 18-year-old Suwannee (Fla.) High's Jared Hendry breaking the teeth of an Ocala (Fla.) Trinity High's Brian Reilly, all part of a brawl that was precipitated by allegations of poor sportsmanship by the Trinity team.
According to the Associated Press and the Gainesville Sun, the violence that led to the charges against Hendry followed the goalie's attempts to break through the attempted restraint of his teammates and Suwannee coach B.J. Shirah. After being held back twice, Hendry chased after a particular Trinity player, only to be tackled by Reilly in an attempt to hold him at bay.
Instead, Hendry whirled and struck Reilly in the face, breaking his two front teeth in half, sending Reilly to his dentist and Hendry to the emergency room, where he was to be checked for potential stitches in the hand with which he threw the punch, after the fight was broken up with the rampant use of pepper spray by a school official.
Suwannee school officials wasted little time in separating the goalie from the school's extracurricular programs, declaring him ineligible from all athletic activities the following day.
"From this time on, Jared Hendry is not going to be participating in any more athletics at Suwannee High School," Suwannee High athletic director Hunter Abercrombie told the Sun. "This is not what this high school is about. The FHSAA sent us a fax this morning, asking us to conduct an investigation into it, and that is what we are currently doing. From there we will turn our findings back to them for evaluation."
The brawl followed a moment of questionable sportsmanship by Trinity in the closing stages of the Celtics' 4-2 victory. With Trinity Catholic holding a 3-2 advantage and threatening in the Suwannee half of the field, Trinity forward Kevin Vieira went down with an injury, ceding the ball to the Bulldogs defense, which played it back to Hendry. The goalie kicked the ball out of bounds to halt play so Vieira could receive treatment, a common practice across all levels of soccer.
Traditionally, such a move is followed by the player of the injured team tossing the ball inbounds to the team which kicked it out to stop play. Yet in this case, Trinity played the ball directly to an attacking player, who quickly slotted a shot past the unsuspecting Hendry, who was not expecting to need to defend his own goal.
"[The goal was] classless.," Shirah told the Sun. "It is just good sportsmanship that most teams follow. They didn't."
While that incident may have triggered the brawl, it hardly provided sufficient motivation for the massive fight, which included at least 10 student athletes and required police pepper spray to halt. Now Hendry is forced to deal with the ramifications of a momentary lapse of reason, which could leave a felony mark on his permanent record.
- Brian Reilly