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Sheyenne soccer captains make final plea for their season

Mustangs rally support from friends and foes with an online petition
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 9:14 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

UPDATE: The undefeated West Fargo Sheyenne Boys Soccer Team will have their JV team play in their place for the state tournament scheduled for Friday, October 9.

The original team has been sidelined for the state tournament because of the exposure with one of their players testing positive for COVID-19.

The game will begin at noon again Bismarck Century.

The teams will play at Fargo South.

ORIGINAL: The effort to make high school fall sports a reality has been an on-going effort from everyone involved. Things came to a screeching halt this week though as the West Fargo Sheyenne boys soccer team is forced to quarantine after a player tested positive for COVID-19 following their quarterfinal game Tuesday.

The North Dakota High School Athletic Association provided two options per their return to competition guidelines: forfeit or send the Sheyenne JV team.

With less than 24-hours to kick-off, the Mustangs are pushing back.

“Just let us play. That’s simple enough," senior captain Seth Kotzbacher said Thursday night.

The Sheyenne boys soccer team is standing up for themselves and begging for a chance after the NDHSAA provided just two options for the quarantined Mustangs. Saying the rules were laid out and worked through this summer.

“We all know the uncertain times we’re in," NDHSAA Executive Director Matt Fetsch said. "Two weeks from now, one week, whenever it is, there’s no guarantee there’s ever going to be a point where four teams are quote on quote healthy. So it’s just something where it’s not ideal and you empathize it’s just a reality of where we’re at.”

The NDHSAA released a statement today saying, "The NDHSAA office was alerted that a team participating in the semifinals of the 2020 NDHSAA Boys Soccer State Tournament had players quarantined on the guidance of a local public health unit.

Per NDHSAA Return to Competition Guidelines: Unless allowed in sport specific regulations, teams/individuals that are unable to participate in postseason tournaments due to COVID-19 will not be replaced and their next opponent will receive a bye.

NDHSAA Boys Soccer Regulations allow qualifying teams to alter their rosters throughout a postseason tournament. Should a rostered player become unable to participate due to ineligibility or other issue, another high school team member may be substituted into that roster position."

The Mustangs captains say the NDHSAA needs to try harder though. Pointing to the NDHSAANow website where a COVID-19 statement is posted saying, “The NDHSAA is committed to the health and safety of all of its member schools, student participants and patrons. The COVID-19 Pandemic presents many challenges and may cause schedules, plans, procedures and protocols to change rapidly. Modifications to NDHSAA events may become necessary to help ensure the safety of those involved.”

According to these senior athletes, that paragraph shows them there was an opportunity for more of an effort.

“Maybe just postpone it three weeks and then see where we go from there," Kotzbacher offered. "I would just expect something a little more out of the NDHSAA.”

“I think that would be the best situation that the NDHSAA postpone the tournament for a couple of weeks and lets us play because all the teams in the tournament want a fair play,” fellow captain Jackson Kuznia added.

The Mustangs have proof the other teams want them to play. They started a petition on change.org with parents and athletes from across the state stepping up to add their name in support of Sheyenne’s plea to postpone the tournament.

“Even though we’re competing against these other teams, they’re still supporting us and trying to get us to have our final chance," Seth said. "They know what it means to have something like this stripped away from them.”

The Mustangs know they are running out of time in this fight but this is a team that played one man short in the final minutes of their quarterfinals and held on for a 2-1 come-from-behind win.

They are a determined group that hasn’t been beaten yet this year and they certainly won’t accept that first ‘L’ to come from the league.

“I don’t really think any excuse they could tell us would be fair," Kayden Aberle admitted. “We’ve been doing everything necessary to keep COVID away. We wear masks all the time.”

If you would like to support the Sheyenne boys soccer team, you can sign their petition here. They are also asking people to email the NDHSAA on their behalf.

If their plea is unsuccessful, the Sheyenne JV team will play in the state semifinals against Bismarck Century on Friday, October 9th at noon at Fargo South.

Copyright 2020 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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