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Center Moriches wins appeal, can compete in girls soccer playoffs

The Center Moriches girls soccer team on Friday,

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

Center Moriches’ girls soccer team now can compete in the Class B sectional playoffs. Tom Combs, executive director of Section XI, the governing body for Suffolk high school sports, said Thursday that an appeals board reversed the decision that disqualified the Red Devils from the playoffs because the team had scheduled more than the maximum number of games allowed in a regular season.

The appeal was heard by school administrators from Section XI. No grounds were given for the reversal.

“We were expecting the worst and we were shocked when our superintendent told us the news at practice,” said senior captain Maddie Juliano, a four-year starter for the Red Devils. “I’ve never been more surprised. I couldn’t wait to call my parents and tell them the good news.”

Playoff seedings and schedules will be announced on Friday, Combs said. The playoffs will start Tuesday and Center Moriches likely will play Mattituck, with the winner to meet Babylon for the championship.

“We never gave up hope and we practiced yesterday and today,” junior midfielder Anna Ricci said. “We were told by everyone that these things never get overturned and our season was over. I was in shock when I heard the news. It was one of the best feelings in my life.”

Center Moriches was on track to be disqualified from the playoffs for playing more than the 16 regular-season games allowed by the section.

Combs earlier said the school self-reported the infraction in mid-September after realizing that a season-opening non-league match against Eastport-South Manor on Sept. 1 would put it over the limit by the end of its 16-game League VII schedule.

Two appeals were denied by a Section XI Appeals Committee and the Athletic Council before Thursday’s decision.

“Now our focus turns to the playoffs,” Ricci said. “We earned the right to be there.”

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