October 27, 2011
One of the best girls soccer teams in Western New York, and possibly the state, will not get to participate in the forthcoming regional playoffs. While one might assume the reason for such a ban would be related to poor conduct on or off the field, the Holland (N.Y.) High girls soccer team had no such issues.
As it is, members of the Holland team are allegedly more likely to be found in a voluntary study hall than drinking or getting in trouble on the weekends -- no members of the team have spent any part of any school day in detention -- and the squad somehow completed an entire regular season without picking up a single yellow card.
Yet, despite all those positives and Holland's impressive 15-2 record, the Dutchwomen won't be playing in the regional playoffs for a rather odd and almost indefensible reason: They played in one game too many.
Yes, you read that right: New York state officials are refusing to allow Holland to compete in any level of the state playoffs because the Dutchwomen played in 17 games. According to the Buffalo News and Buffalo NBC affiliate WGRZ, 2-year-old state regulations call for teams to play only 16 games or fewer in their regular season, and any team which goes beyond those restrictions is deemed ineligible for state competition.
The move to restrict all varsity schedules to 16 games came as a pure cost-cutting measure by New York state officials, so Holland's scheduling of 17 games did little beyond offend the fiscal sensibilities of state athletics administrators.
There is no question that Holland played in a game too many, but the mistake was chalked up to unfortunate oversights by members of the Holland High School athletic department. When the school's athletic department then petitioned the New York State Public High School Athletic Association to overturn the Dutchwomen's postseason ban, that appeal was summarily denied in a teleconference on Tuesday. While a Facebook page set up by supporters of the team has gained nearly 1,000 "likes," that couldn't help sway state officials.
"Unfortunately a mistake was made and the consequences are severe," said Section VI Girls Soccer Chairman Chris Durr told the Buffalo News. "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."
Intentions notwithstanding, the end result of the drawn out and bizarre saga is that one of the genuine contenders to emerge from New York's Section VI will instead have to sit and watch the playoffs from the stands, even though the team members themselves did absolutely nothing wrong.
Unsurprisingly, that decision has left the players bewildered, frustrated and hurt.
"We don't blame anyone, we just want to play," Holland player Candis Kapuscinski told WGRZ.
"I can't express how much I want to play with them and take this to the state finals," fellow Dutchwomen Katherine Shanahan told the NBC affiliate.
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