The Severna Park girls soccer team has been forced to forfeit two regular-season wins after violating a state rule concerning coaching players on a team other than their school team, according to Anne Arundel County supervisor of athletics Greg LeGrand.
According to Rule .04G (2) in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association handbook, only 80 percent of a starting lineup in a sport (eight players in soccer) can play for any of their school's coaches on a club team or any other soccer team during the school year.
Severna Park volunteer assistant coach Paul Kowalewski, who along with head coach Todd Clark is in his first season at Severna Park, coached 10 players in the program at the club level, violating the rule. The majority of the players were on the junior varsity, but a couple of players were called up for varsity games against Meade and Old Mill, which prompted the forfeits. The JV team had to forfeit its entire season.
The Falcons, who earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A East region before the infraction was discovered, went from 14-1 to 12-3 for the season, including a 9-2 record in MPSSAA games. As a result, the regular-season county title was awarded to South River. Because the seedings were already set and regional playoff games had been played, the Falcons' seeding doesn't change, but they now have the possibility of losing a home game.
"In the event that somewhere down the line Severna Park will have to play a team that now has a better record, we will have to give up the home game and play away," Severna Park athletic director Wayne Mook said.
As the regional playoffs are set, Clark said the infraction would cost the team home-field advantage in the regional title game only if South River or Leonardtown advances. Also, the Falcons didn't have to forfeit last week's District V championship win over Reservoir.
"It was a technical violation that I was unclear on," said Clark, who said the school brought the violation to the attention of the county. "It's an unfortunate circumstance, but the positive thing is we get to keep playing in the playoffs. [The MPSSAA] definitely could have come at us a lot harder, but they understood it was unintentional. Our motto all season long has been: 'We're not done yet.' Our goal is to win the state championship - after every game, we talk about being one step closer."
Clark added that, along with other measures, the state could have made the team forfeit the entire season.
Severna Park defeated visiting Chesapeake-AA, 5-1, on Tuesday in its first regional playoff game.