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Center Moriches girls soccer parents try to overturn disqualification from playoffs

The Center Moriches girls soccer team on Friday,

The Center Moriches girls soccer team on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Photo Credit: Thomas J. Lambui

Center Moriches High School parents are appealing a decision that disqualified the school’s girls soccer team from the upcoming playoffs because the team scheduled more than the maximum number of games allowed in a regular season.

Girls soccer teams can play a maximum of 16 games during the season, said Tom Combs, executive director of Section XI, the governing body for Suffolk County high school sports. Combs said the school self-reported the infraction in mid-September after realizing that a Sept. 1 season-opening non-league match against Eastport-South Manor would put it over the limit by the end of its 16-game League VII schedule. The team is 11-4 in league play (11-5 overall) with a final, required, conference game scheduled for Tuesday at Babylon.

“They exceeded the maximum number of games in a season so therefore, the state policy is if you do so, then you are excluded from the playoffs,” Combs said, adding that Section XI requires schools to complete their league schedule to compete in the playoffs.

Center Moriches coaches and athletic director Jeremy Thode did not respond to requests for comment.

Two appeals by the school — to Section XI and the section’s athletic council, already have been denied, Combs said. An appeal before the executive director of the New York State Public Athletic Association is scheduled for Monday, Combs said.

Parents and players of the Center Moriches team are distraught over the disqualification, with some saying they first learned of the disqualification on Tuesday.

“It sounds almost ridiculous but if the athletic director can’t count to 16 and see that we’re overcommitted before the season starts,” said Renee Passaro, who has a daughter on the team. “I mean, that’s just basic counting.”

Passaro said the parents reached out to the office of county Legis. Kate Browning of Shirley, and received a response, saying a letter to Section XI to advocate for the players in hopes of the girls not being penalized for an administrative mistake will be sent.

“Understanding that we have three seniors that are graduating, we are trying to make it as positive for them as we can knowing that there are rules in place,” Passaro said. “Although we are advocating on their behalf, we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. They’re frustrated and upset and just trying to make the best of their last games.”

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