Soccer players suspended for ‘attack’ against ref

MVRHS principal calls incident an ‘embarrassment,’ and vows commitment to civility and respectful sportsmanship.

Two MVRHS boys soccer players were suspended after an altercation with an official. - Gabrielle Mannino

Two Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys soccer players have been suspended from playing sports after an altercation with an official during the team’s final playoff game of the season, a 1-0 loss to Norwell, MVRHS Principal Sara Dingledy has confirmed.

The students, whom the school is not naming, will also face unspecified disciplinary action from the school, Dingledy wrote in an email to The Times asking about the discipline. “They are members of our school community, and we will work with them to make amends as they accept the consequences of their actions,” she wrote. “I am confident they are on board to do that.”

The incident happened in the final seconds of a 0-0 deadlocked game Tuesday. The referee called for a penalty kick, and Norwell converted for the 1-0 victory. That’s when the two MVRHS players allegedly struck and shoved the official, according to a report by the Boston Globe.

Dingledy addressed the incident in a letter sent out Thursday to parents, calling the behavior “an embarrassment to our program and our school community.”

“This is a game. It has rules, and it has officials who enforce those rules. Attacking a ref, verbally or physically, is uncalled for,” Dingledy wrote. “The MIAA takes a hard stand against this, as does MVRHS. It was a terrible way to end an amazing game, and it took the focus off the class and grit our team played with over the previous 90 minutes.”

Dingledy promised to take “a hard look at the circumstances” that led up to the incident. “As it stands, I will reiterate to coaches that their primary job is to maintain respect, civility, and safety on the field/ice/court,” she wrote. “Student-athletes who cannot commit to this, or who consistently challenge any referee’s calls, will not play. As a school we must reinforce that on-field behaviors of our athletes, and the decorum of our fan base, must exemplify sportsmanship, integrity, and the core values of MVRHS.”

In her letter, Dingledy wrote that the actions of these players do not represent the whole team.

“The majority of the MVRHS players out there played fairly and carried themselves with dignity this entire season,” she wrote. “Many parents and fans were equally disappointed in what transpired at Norwell, and expect more from the team and school leadership. As the leader of the school, I apologize to the MVRHS players, fans, and parents for this situation. I have also apologized to the soccer officials and to Norwell High School. I hope that this moment can be an opportunity to grow, and rest assured, we are reflecting and taking steps to get better.”


  1. Disgraceful. The teens should also be forced to have a face to face meeting with the ref, chaperoned by their parents and school officials, and apologize. If this had happened in the checkout line at Stop & Shop the teens would’ve been arrested for assault and battery. I’m surprised charges weren’t filed.

  2. I would suggest part of their punishment is they must referee games themselves. It’s a hard thankless job that everyone seems to complain about yet, no one wants to do. Hopefully they feel shame and regret and will learn a valuable lesson.

    • Islanduh— I think that’s a pretty good suggestion.. when I was in boot camp, I criticized the recruit platoon leader who marched us around. I wound up having the honor of directing 85 young men to the mess hall for dinner that night . By this time they were pretty well disciplined and listened to my orders as I promptly commanded them to march into the shrubbery lining the path. They did it with great flare, flailing arms and falling over the bushes with great laughter. My company was the last to eat that night, as the drill officers didn’t have much of a sense of humor ,and thought we needed more practice. I sure kept my mouth shut after that fiasco.

  3. This is terrible behavior…..I hope the school makes an example that this is not tolerated.
    I sure hope I don’t see the lame “boys will be boys” comments on this article.

  4. I’m not sure why these two disrespectful kids aren’t being charged with assault! Sounds like these little boys need to learn respect and having ref games isn’t the answer. They should be made to take anger management classes and on completion made to teach and bring awareness to bullying. I sure hope the parents step up and have their disrespectful adolescents pay some kind of restitution to the ref they attacked. It is leaf season and 8 hours of raking is a small start. I look forward to hearing/reading some kind of public apologies from these two, one to the ref and one to the community they embarrassed with their thoughtless actions.

  5. Yes, assault charges should be brought, a public apology be done forthwith, and everything that Move to Main said and if they do not cooperate in full make the Move to Vermont where stuff like this is really accepted.

    • VIN jane– “stuff like this is really accepted” in Vermont ? Where did that come from ? Do you have any statistics or factual information that students assaulting referees occurs more often in Vermont than other states ? or that for some reason it is more widely accepted by teachers , refs, parents or students ?
      Or do you just have some kind of bias against people who live in Vermont ?

  6. Even if it was a bad call you cant let your emotions get the best of you. They need to apologize to the ref.

  7. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Vineyard Jane having family in Vermont and watching my nephews grow up there please don’t think this is tolerated there. It’s not tolerated anywhere. Unfortunately disrespectful brats are everywhere and the respect needs to be taught at home first. The attitude of these two is disgusting! Who the “*” do they think they are? Anger Management can start at any age.

  8. Still trying to figure out why the headline says “attack”. Is it an attack or not? If yes, why the quotation marks? If no, why not find the proper word? In my opinion the headline leads to unnecessary ambiguity.

    • The principal in her letter uses the word “attack.” Specifically, “Attacking a ref, verbally or physically, is uncalled for.”

  9. No arguing the fact that what the players did is terrible and there needs to be repercussions. There is never
    room in sports for striking an official. Ever. That being said, I have also NEVER met a kid who didn’t deserve a second chance. I personally have coached kids from Little League and into college–well over 20 years. I have also officiated games. I have seen countless kids(and adults) make mistakes and bad decisions, and I strongly feel that no single mistake should be punished with what is essentially a “life sentence” from their sport. What they did was horrible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn and grow from it. Punish them, yes. But also yes to a second chance. If they blow the second chance then that is on them. Give them a chance to make things right before throwing the book at them. Kids need sports in their lives. Structure, rules, discipline, camaraderie, physical activity, responsibility for you actions, these are all things kids are exposed to when playing a sport. I can’t see how taking these away can truly help a kid.

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