BOSTON — Despite recent controversy, the Medford High School boys soccer team will be playing in a high school playoff game on Saturday after all.
The team had been barred from its sectional championship game this weekend after the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association voided their season due a rule violation by the school, according to a release from Medford Public Schools.
In a statement, the school said it had failed to request a waiver for one of its players -- who was a fifth-year transfer into the district -- prior to the start of the 2019 season.
The team was 17-4-1 and ranked third in the state as they geared up for the Division 1 North Championship. But, until last week, the team did not realize it was playing with an ineligible player.
After self-reporting what the school called a "clerical oversight," the MIAA decided to forfeit all the team's 2019 games and disallow them from participating in the Division 1 North Championship Saturday, November 16.
However, on Friday, the City of Medford and Medford Public Schools filed a lawsuit for equitable relief for the Medford Boys Soccer team, appealing the MIAA's decision.
A judge eventually issued a temporary restraining order, which will allow students to play on Saturday.
Attorneys for both sides argued the case on Friday afternoon after it was clear that the team would not receive a decision from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Council (MIAC) prior to the courts closing.
"This was an adult oversight. It had nothing to do with the students, and they should not be penalized. It is hard to explain it and even harder to try to understand," Mayor Stephanie Muccini Burke and Superintendent Dr. Marice Edouard-Vincent said in a joint statement Friday. "We are exploring alternatives, including possible legal action, with the goal of providing our students with the opportunity to play in the game. The MIAA's decision is inflicting irreparable harm upon this team."
In a statement from the Medford School District, Dr. Vincent said the "minor error should not prohibit the entire team from playing in the Division 1 North Finals."
"As students, as athletes, as young men; these individuals have done nothing to deserve elimination from the tournament," Dr. Vincent added. "They have conducted themselves as sportsmen, and true representatives of the MIAA and the Medford Public Schools."
In an interview with Boston 25 News, prior to the judge's decision to override the MIAA and MIAC's decison, the MIAA took a hard-line stance on the rules.
"This is absolutely an unfortunate situation and it's a no-win. No one wins here," MIAA spokesperson Tara Bennett told Boston 25 News Friday. "There are rules in place and there's reasons there are rules in place...the member schools, the athletic directors and the principals need to adhere to the established rules."
The squad will face off against Lincoln-Sudbury High School Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the Division 1 North Final, with the winner advancing to the state semifinals.
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