The boys’ soccer team from Northwestern High School, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, has been disqualified from competing in this year’s state playoffs after county officials said the Wildcats used an ineligible player during the season.
The school system’s Office of Athletics received an anonymous email concerning a player on the Wildcats roster, spokesperson Meghan Gebreselassie told WTOP. An investigation determined that Northwestern fielded an ineligible player during the season and in its regional semifinal playoff match on Oct. 28.
As a result, Northwestern will forfeit its playoff win; High Point High School — the team the Wildcats beat in the regional semifinals — will take its place in the regional finals, Gebreselassie said.
The Wildcats’ Instagram posted the news before the forfeit and before the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association — the agency that organizes the state’s interscholastic athletics — updated its brackets.
“We appreciate everyone who supported us throughout the season,” the post read. “It was fun while it lasted. Good luck to all of our seniors who were sold a dream.”
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According to the PGCPS Athletics Handbook, students interested in participating in high school sports must earn at least a 2.0 grade point average “in order to participate in extracurricular activities or athletics during the following quarter.”
Additionally, if a student’s GPA falls under 2.0 at the end of a quarter while they participate in a sport, and the season continues through the following semester, the student is no longer eligible to participate. Lastly, students must only play for the school that they are assigned to based on their school area.
Head coach Victor Ramirez, a former state delegate and state senator for Prince George’s County, told WTOP that his players are “devastated” by the decision. He added that there was no way for him and his coaching staff to know the problems with the player’s eligibility, saying that a school’s athletic director is responsible for “making sure the player is eligible.”
“I wish the person who knew the information would have contacted me directly, and I would have reported it myself,” Ramirez said. “Instead, my team, who has worked so hard and was undefeated, did not get the opportunity to complete their season and are extremely disappointed.”
Northwestern won last year’s 4A state championship, capturing the school’s first title in boys’ soccer since 1995. The Wildcats had an undefeated record (8-0-2) and recently won the Prince George’s County Championships before the start of this year’s postseason tournament.
It is unclear whether they will be stripped of the county title.
School officials are still investigating the matter to “determine additional penalties.” More information will be released once the investigation is complete, Gebreselassie said, but no timetable was provided.
WTOP reached out to Northwestern High School Athletic Director Terri Dendy and MPSSAA for comment.