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Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015: Somers extends girls soccer streak to 37 wins

   Leading off today: Some games are closer than others as the streak continues, but the beat goes on for Somers girls soccer. The defending NYSPHSAA Class A champions made it 37 straight wins Wednesday with a 5-1 victory vs. Yorktown.

   Junior midfielder Melina Couzis scored three goals to raise her total for the season to 12 and Hannon Eberts tallied twice to reach 25 for the year. Couzis' first goal came after Alyssa Francese tied the game via a penalty kick. Eberts directed a header to Couzis, who snapped the ball past the keeper's outstretched arms.

   A day earlier, the Tuskers improved to 14-0 by prevailing 3-1 in overtime vs. Arlington.

   "You don't want to be playing four games in a week or back-to-back games and be in overtime," coach Paul Saia said, "but you've got to be able to do it if you want to get somewhere. These girls work very hard in practice and they're in good shape."

   Milestone: Lowville girls soccer coach Leo Sammon won his 400th game Tuesday. Lowville closed its regular season with a 6-0 victory over General Brown to improve Sammon's record to 400-107-31 in 28 seasons.

   Former East Syracuse Minoa coach Milton Valerio holds the Section 3 record of 406 victories.

   More Wednesday soccer: Spackenkill handed Rhinebeck its first girls soccer loss of the year, wrapping up its regular season with a 1-0 victory. Katherine Lillis scored off Alyssa Barahona's throw-in with four minutes left.

   The Spartans, ranked 17th in the state in Class B, are 13-0, and No. 12 Rhinebeck is 12-1. The teams have a Monday rematch scheduled in the Mid-Hudson Athletic League semifinals.

   That was quick: Brentwood senior forward Alejandro Callejas' goal just nine seconds into the game was all the scoring as the state's second-ranked boys Class AA soccer team defeated No. 18 Commack 1-0.    "That definitely was a first. I've never scored that quickly in my life," Callejas, who also scored the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over defending state champion Commack on Sept. 21, told Newsday. "It was crazy. I couldn't believe it. It was perfect."

   The play unfolded off the opening whistle, when midfielder Jefferson Portillo chipped a pass to Rayneri Ruiz, who lofted the ball over the defense.

   "Ray placed it right to my feet and I just put it on net," Callejas said. "I was hoping we scored more, but it was a relief to be ahead."

   Brentwood's defense made the lead stand up. Goalkeeper Jayson Murillo made four stops for his seventh consecutive shutout.

   Football forfeits: The Ithaca Journal tweeted Thursday that Lansing will forfeit its homecoming football game Friday against Chenango Forks due to a lack of players. Chenango Forks had already picked up a Week 5 forfeit victory when Whitney Point could not field enough players.

   Also in Class C, No. 15 Millbrook will have an unscheduled week off following a decision by Eldred to forfeit according to the Hudson Valley Sports Report.

   Looking back: We mentioned last week a Newsday investigation into the safety ratings of helmets used by Long Island high school football teams. On Thursday, the Hewlett-Woodmere school district told the paper it has bought 125 new five-star helmets in response to the original story.

   Superintendent Ralph Marino said the helmets arrived Saturday for Hewlett's varsity and junior varsity players to wear them before their homecoming games against Lawrence.

   Newsday obtained helmet inventories for 108 schools and determined Hewlett's inventory contained 27 helmets rated just one and two stars in a Virginia Tech safety study. An additional 35 helmets could not be rated accorded to the paper. The district did not have any 5-star helmets.

   Some tough situations: The Post-Star did a story over the weekend about some Section 2 football teams that had to take a step back to rebuild, sometimes to the unintended detriment of older players. In a sidebar, they told the story of Fort Edward senior Justin Herring, left without a team -- or options to play elsewhere -- when Fort Edward made a decision in June to drop its varsity this year due to a projected low player turnout.

   By the time Fort Edward dropped football, the Section 2 deadline for approving combined programs had already passed. An appeal to allow Herring to play for nearby Hudson Falls -- just as Salem did to allow two seniors to play varsity for Cambridge last year -- was rejected.

  
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   "The section has very clear rules and deadlines on mergers," former Fort Edward AD Tom McGurl told the paper. "It's pretty rigorous. The days are long gone when you could send a kid up the street to a different school."

   McGurl's choice of words rang a proverbial bell with me because of something else I read this week: A letter from Ellicottville Superintendent Mark Ward, who wants state approval to send a kid up the street to resolve an interesting situation.

   Here's the short story -- or at least as short as I can make a tricky situation:

   A school district not identified (but logic says it's West Valley) in Ward's letter to the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee ahead of next week's meeting, asked Ellicottville to allow all of its student-athletes to compete on Ellicottville teams this school year based largely on concerns that its numbers were too small to maintain safe and viable programs.

   The request was OK'd by the Ellicottville school board, setting in motion the usual procedure that dozens of New York schools follow each year when they decide to combine teams without actually merging their districts.

   However, a funny thing (or not so funny, I guess) happened along the way. At least three families from the other school -- which no longer has a sports program since its athletes compete now for Ellicottville -- have approached Ellicottville administrators to express interest in paying pout-of-district tuition to have their children attend classes there without a corresponding change in address.

   Strictly speaking, the issue clearly falls under the NYSPHSAA's transfer rules, which means the athletes must sit for a year in any sport they competed in. That rule, though, exists to keep an athlete from leaving one school's team to play for another school's team. In this case, the athlete is leaving behind an athletic "program" that doesn't exist.

   "What is the most frustrating part of this situation is that the student is gaining no athletic advantage nor is the student being recruited for athletic reasons," Ward writes. "They play on the same interscholastic team whether they go to the neighboring school or go to Ellicottville."

   Here's the problem with making an exception for Ellicottville. The last set of changes to the NYSPHSAA transfer rule removed a loophole used mostly by parents wishing to send the children to private schools. Many cited a desire to have their children take classes not offered at the public school -- namely, religion-related courses that public schools can't offer.

   If you're not going to make accommodations over courses that doesn't exist, can you really make an exception over an athletic department that doesn't exist.

   We won't get an answer from next Thursday's NYSPHSAA meeting because the Ellicottville issue is only on the agenda as a sectional concern rather than an action item, but Ward's concern will have to be dealt with at some point down the road.

   More later (maybe): I'm still pulling stuff together, but I'd like to crank out a second blog tonight to start covering some other fodder from next week's NYSPHSAA Executive Committee meeting. First on the hit list is a look at some sports that are looking to expand their state tournaments by adding a class.


  
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