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.”