One night after the Bristol girls soccer team advanced to the Division III Kent district title game, the Panthers were forced to forfeit the win.
It was discovered after Monday night's game that the Panthers used an ineligible player. Due to rules set forth by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the Panthers had to forfeit the win, advancing Champion to the district title game.
"I was contacted by Jerry Snodgrass from the Ohio High School Athletic Association that Bristol will have to forfeit the game and due to the ruling," Champion athletic director Tim Cope said. "Champion will advance to play Rootstown for the district title on Thursday night at Champion."
The events began during the game when the now-ruled ineligible player broke her glasses during Monday's game. It was then noticed by Michelle Horvath, a statistician for Champion, who also is an OHSAA soccer referee, that the player had participated in an indoor soccer game the previous night that Horvath had refereed at the Niles Wellness Center.
"I didn't honestly notice her until she broke her glasses 10 feet in front of me on the sideline after the game had already begun to play," Horvath said. "Then I was looking at her and thought to myself, 'I think I reffed her last night.' It was then confirmed by me by another person on the sideline. So I went and told the coach (Dan Houle) that I reffed No. 10 last night in indoor."
Number 10 on Bristol's roster is listed as Lexi Campbell.
After the game, which Bristol won, it was brought to the attention of the referees and athletic directors from both schools. After speaking to all parties involved, it was confirmed that Campbell had played in an indoor soccer game the previous evening - which is against OHSAA rules.
According the OHSAA rule 4.1, "A member of an interscholastic soccer squad sponsored by the Board of Education shall not participate in a non-interscholastic program (tryouts, practice or contest) as an individual or a member of a team in the sport of soccer during the school's season. This regulation is applicable for those invited to participate in a tryout, group training or practices at a college or in contests, tryouts, group training or practices with any non-school team such as a club (Sports Regulation 6.3)."
Also, Rule 4.3 states that "a student may not play in a non-interscholastic soccer contest, game or scrimmage while a member of the school soccer squad, until the student's team has completed its schedule. This includes tournaments when applicable."
The ruling was brought to the attention to the OHSAA on Tuesday morning. It was ruled later in the afternoon that Bristol would have to forfeit the victory as Campbell was ruled ineligible for the game.
"It's always an unfortunate situation because many people suffer because of this," said Snodgrass, Assistant Commissioner of the OHSAA. "But it's also a very clear regulation of ours that the member schools accept."
Snodgrass also stated that Bristol was nothing but cooperative in the matter at hand.
"Did I have an ineligible player? Yes, I did," Bristol coach Jack Rassmussen said. "I was asked after the game by my athletic director if she played in an indoor game last night. I honestly didn't know. But I found that she did, which was grounds for the forfeit.
"I am going to appeal the ruling. I've had 11 other girls out there all year long, and they are going to be penalized for it."
Rassmussen's appeal stems from whether or not Horvath knew of the ineligible player before she took the field on Monday. Horvath insists she didn't.
However, the ruling has been made, meaning Champion will now face Rootstown on Thursday for the district title.
"I've been at this 21 years, and this has never happened that I know of," Houle said. "But the state made a ruling, and that's what I go by."
The two teams will face off on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Champion.