HB girls soccer out of playoffs after using ineligible player

The Hollis Brookline High School girls soccer team hadn’t lost a game on the field in over a month, but the Cavaliers won’t be competing for a division championship this year.

The HB varsity girls soccer team will miss the Division II playoffs, which start Wednesday, after forfeiting eight wins for using an ineligible player for all but three games this season. The ruling from the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association came Friday, after the Hollis Brookline superintendent’s office was notified of the violation on Oct. 20.

An email sent by a person in the community informed interim superintendent John Moody that the Cavs were using a player who no longer lived in the district. After following up with high school athletic director Rhon Rupp and girls soccer head coach Peter Clarke, along with the girl’s parents, Moody found out that was the case.

“We followed up with both parents, who initially denied they no longer lived in Hollis or Brookline,” Moody said. “The mother eventually told the coach (Clarke) that the daughter and she had been living in another community.”

Moody also added that Rupp and Clarke didn’t know the girl no longer lived in the district until the email was sent, but that some of the players had known since June. Clarke and Rupp were under orders not to publicly comment, with the latter directing all inquiries to the superintendent’s office.

“Once we had reason to believe we had an ineligible student, according to the rules, we were required to report it and we did,” Moody said. “We talked to the NHIAA and they made a ruling that, because of the ineligible player, all the games that person participated in would be forfeited.”

The NHIAA’s by-law on eligibility states that a school using “ineligible coaches or contestants shall forfeit all games and contests in which the ineligible coach or student participates.”

With the outcome of eight games flipped, the forfeits rearranged the Division II girls soccer standings.

HB would have been the fifth seed in the playoffs with a record of 10-5-1, but instead finish the year 2-13-1.

Seven teams picked up an extra win, including Alvirne, Coe-Brown, Hanover, Pembroke, Con-Val, John Stark and Milford, which gained two. Those two victories jumped the Spartans, who weren’t going to advance to the postseason, past three teams and into 15th.

Goffstown would have finished fourth, but the extra wins for Alvirne and Coe-Brown vaulted both teams past the Grizzlies, who are now the sixth seed. Hanover’s extra win also moved it up from ninth place to seventh, past Merrimack Valley.

“It’s a difficult situation for everyone,” Moody said. “I feel bad for the team, for the school, but the rules are there and we follow all of them. We were bound to comply, and as sad as that may be, the season is over.”

The ruling came down Friday afternoon, and a phone call to inquire about an appeal made Saturday morning was not returned, according to Moody. But even if it had been, the violation was clear.

“The evidence was clear that we were in violation of the rule,” Moody said. “Had we known about it earlier, we would have done something. It was clear others knew about it and didn’t bring it to our attention. The person who reported it knew in June. If we’d have been informed then, we’d have dealt with it.”