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Tuesday, May 15, 2012: Boy restored to Southampton field hockey roster

   Leading off today: Keeling Pilaro will remain on the Southampton field hockey team after a 180-degree turn by Section 11 officials on Tuesday.

   The 4-foot-8, 82-pound boy scored 10 goals last fall as an eighth-grader on the varsity, and Suffolk County officials in charge of mixed-competition applications initially ruled in March that his skills had become too advanced for him to continue competing against girls.

   Southampton district officials appealed to the Section 11, composed of approximately two dozen members, which voted to reverse the ban by a less-than-unanimous margin. Pilaro will have to reapply after next season to remain on the team.

   Pilaro, 13, grew up in Dublin, Ireland, where he was introduced to the sport, which is primarily played by girls in the United States.

   Section 11 attorney Kevin Seaman said the organization determined Pilaro ultimately would not have "a significant adverse effect" on girls' opportunity to participate. An attorney for the Pilaro family said he considered filing a federal complaint had the initial ruling not been reversed.

   Five and counting: Loudonville Christian senior Alex Rollis pitched her third five-inning softball no-hitter in eight days and fifth of the season Monday during a 20-0 win over Heatly.

   She walked one batter and struck out nine. On April 24, Rollis fired a perfect game against Heatly, striking out 12. She has allowed 35 hits and 25 walks, striking out 175 batters in 93 innings to help Loudonville Christian to a 17-0 record.

   Speaking of Section 2 pitching sensations, Siena recruit Rachel Quackenbush of Hoosick Falls moved into second place on the NYSPHSAA career strikeouts list last week at 1,458. She missed a start Monday due to illness and is likely to fall a bit short of the mark of 1,603 by Jordan Ingalls of Bolivar-Richburg from 2003-08.

   'Team VinnyV' swings into action: The Times Herald-Record reported that wrestlers filled a lobby on Monday night at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, where Monroe-Woodbury freshman wrestler Vinny Vespa is being treated.

   Vespa, 14, was diagnosed with lymphoma last week. A 10-centimeter tumor was found in Vespa's lungs last week.

   "Everybody in Section 9 is pulling for him," Pine Bush sophomore John Stramiello told the paper. "He was a state qualifier this season and is a very popular kid. There were more than 20 friends at the hospital. Everybody loves Vinny."

   The 99-pound wrestler's family is waiting for a determination on whether the lymphoma is Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins. The results will help determine the course of treatment, including chemotherapy.

   "We have a lot of faith," said Lisa Vespa, Vinny's mother. "Hodgkins is a very treatable cancer. Non-Hodgkin's is a more difficult cancer. Vincent is as tough as nails, mentally he has the inner strength to get through this."

   Vespa, who lost both his matches Feb. 24 in the NYSPHSAA Division I championships in Albany, experienced breathing problems throughout much of the recent season. He was competing as recently as two weeks ago.

   Forever Fierce, a local company of Monroe-Woodbury assistant coach Scott Johannemann, is making "Team

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VinnyV" T-shirts, which will sell for $20 and benefit the Vespa family.

   Hockey rules changes: The National Federation of State High School Associations' Ice Hockey Rules Committee approved tougher penalties aimed at curbing checking from behind, it was announced Monday.

   Whereas Rule 6-7-1 states pushing, charging and cross-checking or body-checking from behind in open ice is a violation resulting in a minor and a misconduct penalty, Rule 6-7-2 now says, "Hitting from behind into the boards or goal frame is a flagrant violation," triggering a game disqualification.

   Dan Schuster, NFHS staff liaison to the hockey committee, said safety was the main factor in the rules change approved at the April 23-24 meeting in Indianapolis.

   "The committee really took a hard look at the severity of injuries caused by these hits," Schuster said. "The reason behind the rule is more about addressing a change of culture in high school hockey, and players, coaches, officials and fans need to understand the consequences of these hits."

   In other rule changes, the high school crease will be changed to conform to NHL and NCAA dimensions, and opposing players will be given the benefit of the doubt more often for intruding upon the crease. "As long as a player isn't physically disrupting or visually impeding the goalkeeper, he or she can stand in the crease," Schuster said.

   CHSAA hoops changes: Downstate CHSAA boys basketball will see some changes next season, the most notable being Iona Prep and Moore Catholic moving up to Class AA in place of All Hallows and Monsignor Farrell. Nazareth, fresh off an appearance in the Federation tournament, moves up a notch to Class A.

   Scheduling will also be revised.

   Last season, Brooklyn/Queens teams only played Archdiocesan teams in league play with a corresponding ranking based on the coaches’ vote. Next winter, each team will play its diocesan rivals twice and play teams from the other diocese once. Only the Archdiocese will play the Staten Island teams, though, and just once.

   More New York news: In case you missed it, I blogged earlier Tuesday on a handful of New York high school football topics.

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