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Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018: Broken rule bounces unbeaten team from sectionals

   Leading off today: One of my weekly columns this fall for The Press & Sun-Bulletin was about the mandatory meetings that the NYSPHSAA office conducts for athletic directors in each section of the state.

   When making the presentation in Section 5 in last August, Executive Director Robert Zayas noted that one rule in particular somehow gets violated somewhere in the state at least once a year despite being highlighted in the annual workshops.

   Well, it's another year and another instance of the rule being violated. And this time it has sent an undefeated girls volleyball team to the sidelines for the Section 2 tournament.

   Section 2 Executive Director Ed Dopp said Lake George was ruled ineligible for the postseason because it had exceeded the number of matches allowed during the regular season. Dopp said Lake George had played 21 matches this season, one more than the state allows. The Post-Star reported. A violation of that rule makes a team ineligible for postseason play, and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association handbook spells out the penalty in no uncertain terms.

   Lake George superintendent Lynne Rutnik said school officials went to "the very top of the section" to look for relief, but a match that the Warriors regarded as a scrimmage was against Glens Falls qualified as a varsity contest.

   Rutnik said the records her school submitted to Section 2 indicated that it was regular-season match, which made it hard to make the case that it was a scrimmage, the paper reported. She called it an "innocent mistake" and added that the school will be putting safeguards in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.

   With Lake George out of the running, Galway was anointed top seed in the Section 2 Class D tournament.

   Volleyball reaction: A commentary in The Post-Star criticized NYSPHSAA policies as "inconsistent at best," noting that teams having to forfeit regular-season games due to the use of ineligible players can still participate in sectionals.

   "But to end a high school team's season because of an adult's minor mistake is unconscionable under the circumstances, frankly," wrote Don Lehman.

   You can read the commentary here.


   Move pays off: Clarence boys soccer coach Mike Silverstein made a big change four games into the season by moving second-year starting goalkeeper Kenny Suen to outside midfielder and inserting senior Spencer Catalano in the nets.

   On Tuesday, Suen scored with 5:52 left in the first sudden death overtime to give the Blue Devils a 1-0 victory over Williamsville North in the Section 6 Class AA semifinals.

   "Go to the net and crash hard, that's what Kenny does," Silverstein said after Suen's third goal of the season, "just football site

like if he's going to the line to win a ball as a keeper. He's tenacious and vicious and fast."

   "I saw the ball going over the defender's head and I just came running in," Suen said. "I was so excited. I don't know what happened after that. I just started running."

   Clarence will face Lancaster in Saturday's final for a shot at its third straight sectional championship and eighth in 10 years.

   Milestone: Devin LaDue and Matt Gentile scored goals nine minutes apiece in the first half as Wayne beat Irondequoit 2-0 in the Section 5 boys Class A soccer quarterfinals. The win was the 300th for Eagles coach Tim Mattle.

   Helpful harriers: A New Mexico hunter who became lost in the wilderness has a high school cross country team to thank for his safe return.

   Ronnie Duran, 65, who got lost in the woods while hunting near the La Paloma Trail, had been missing for two days when the cross country team from Cuba (N.M.) High School discovered him while out on a training run in Vallecitos.

   "I was almost finished running and I was making a turn and I see him right there and I was wondering who it was because no one's up there," Cuba runner Osiris Putnam said, adding that the hunter asked for help. "We were like, "Yeah, we can help you.'"

   The team abandoned the rest of its run to walk Duran back to their coach.

   Extra points: Aquinas running back and linebacker Caron Robinson, out six games with a broken thumb, has been cleared to return in the Section 5 Class AA football finals this weekend vs. Pittsford.

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