Tempe High unknowingly played a boys soccer player who played in a club tournament before the Christmas break.
The school self reported the violation Tuesday to the Arizona Interscholastic Association. The player, a starting midfielder, played in five high school games (Tempe went 3-1-1) after playing in the club tournament.
Tempe High, which was ranked No. 10 in the power rankings, will have to forfeit the games the player played in after the club tournament, possibly knocking the school out of the Division II playoffs. Tempe High can appeal the violation to the AIA’s executive board, but the board doesn’t meet until Feb. 18 and the playoffs start next week.
Tempe High can request a special meeting before the state tournament starts, something that board president, Dan Serrano, would have to approve. Another D-II boys soccer team, which wasn’t ranked in the top-20 Tuesday, also self reported a similar violation and will have to forfeit five games.
“They (Tempe High) did the right thing by self reporting,” said David Hines, the AIA’s state soccer tournament director. “She (Shelly Arredondo, Tempe High’s athletic director) was up front. She should be commended for that.”
This is the first violation to occur during Steve Cihomsky’s watch.
The 15-year head coach has earned a reputation as a strong leader and mentor to his players during his tenure at the school.
“You go through the stages,” said Cihomsky about the violation. “Shock. Anger. Denial. We were surprised. Life will give you a lot difficult things, but it’s about how you respond to the challenges.”
Before the forfeits, Tempe’s overall record was 11-2-1, 9-1-1 in the power rankings.
Tempe has two regular season games left to play and will do so without the ineligible player.
Tempe learned on Tuesday of the violation after it received an anonymous envelope with the picture of the ineligible player holding a trophy during the club tournament.
The player, who speaks limited English, said he wasn’t aware that he was violating a rule by playing in a club tournament during the high school season, Cihomsky said.
“I hope the AIA cuts us some slack,” Cihomsky said. “I do want to know who turned in that envelope. I want that person to look me in the eye and tell me he did that. I’m owed that as coach.”