State soccer tournaments to be delayed three days

Move will accommodate P.G., Montgomery teams

October 22, 2002|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

The start of the state's boys and girls regional soccer tournaments has been pushed back three days to accommodate teams from Montgomery and Prince George's counties whose practice and playing schedules have been disrupted by the sniper shootings in the Washington area.

The tournaments, originally scheduled to begin Friday, will instead start next Monday "to enhance the opportunity for every team to compete in the state tournament," according to a news release from Ned Sparks, executive secretary of the Maryland Public Secondary Athletic Schools Association.

The revised schedule "at the same time will provide optimum competitive atmosphere for those teams that have been idle for several weeks," the statement said.

Sparks said he arrived at the decision Sunday night "after a series of phone calls and conversations held over the weekend with various districts officials" who were sympathetic to the plight of two of the state's largest counties.

"I am happy to report that in the spirit of cooperation, sportsmanship and fair play, those not directly affected by the recent sniper attacks are all too happy to extend a hand to their neighbors," Sparks said.

Unlike the state golf tournament, which was moved back a week, switched from the University of Maryland to Clustered Spires in Frederick and condensed from two days to one, Sparks said the soccer tournament state finals will go on as scheduled Nov. 14-16. The regional finals are slated Nov. 7.

Although the two counties recently began allowing athletic teams to practice, district officials in Montgomery and Prince George's counties still have no indication of when or whether games will be resumed in the foreseeable future.

Sparks would not speculate on whether the soccer tournament or any other state tournaments would be affected should conditions fail to improve.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season for football, teams from Montgomery and Prince George's counties still have yet to play more than five games - four below the state-mandated minimum required to be eligible for the playoffs.

The playoff field is chosen through an elaborate point system, but "these are extreme circumstances," said state football chairman John Cox. "If football games are not played this weekend, then we're going to have to have our meeting and talk about how we're going to handle this because there's no way they're going to make nine games."

Cox said he spoke to Sparks yesterday about alternatives, but would not divulge any of them.

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