[QUOTE]Does anyone have any information on the fracas at the Melrose vs Burke game on Saturday? I have heard some sketchy information regarding confrontations between coaches/players and the refereees at half-time and then a second (and final) confrontation after the award of a penalty kick. The information I heard was that a coach came on the field to dispute the call and, eventually, attempted to kick a referee. Was anyone there or does anyone have access to unbiased information?
(Editor's note: this article was updated on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. with additional clarification about what led to the Burke player receiving a red card and about Melrose advancing to the next round of the tournament.)
The Melrose boys soccer team has advanced in the state tournament in controversial fashion, after a 1-1 game against Burke High School on Saturday afternoon ended with 35 minutes left to play due to a red card issued to the Burke head coach for what referee Giovanni Diola called "abusive language."
Neither the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's (MIAA) handbook (PDF) or soccer tournament format rules (PDF) state that when a coach receives a red card, his or her team forfeits the game. However, Diola and fellow referee Gunnar Larson said after the game that the MIAA would likely rule that Melrose, the 14th seed in the North Division 2 tournament, advances to the next round of the tournament.
As of Sunday, Melrose is listed as advancing to the next round on the MIAA website. An MIAA representative could not be immediately reached over the weekend for comment.
On the play leading up to Burke head coach Gus Marcins' red card, Melrose freshman Frantzdy Pierrot had position in the penalty area ahead of a Burke defender when Pierrot went to the ground. The referee awarded Pierrot a penalty kick, but did not issue the Burke player a red card for the foul, which Melrose Patch initially reported.
Melrose head coach Dean Serino described the play: "(Pierrot) took the kid, turned on his back, he was in front of him, the kid hit him, he went down, called a PK. Then ... I don't know even know."
According to Melrose player Steve Vaughan in the comments on this article (below) and an e-mail sent to Melrose Patch after the game, the Burke player then began yelling at the referee in protestation of the call, and the referee eventually issued the player a red card.
Marcins came out on the field and demonstratively started arguing with the referee, who then issued a red card to the coach.
Diola said that Marcins used "abusive language," claiming that the referees were calling the game unfairly because his school was from Dorchester and that for some of his players, English is a second language.
"That's got nothing to do with soccer," Diola said, dismissing what he said were Marcins' assertions.
Larson added, "I'm Swedish and he's (Diola) Italian."
Asked what he said to the referees, Marcins said "I don't recall what I said" when arguing against the red card issued to his player.
"What I said is almost irrelevant to what I felt," he said. "It's 18-year-old kids trying to play a state tournament game. It's 1-1. Be fair. I've seen the incompetence in high school refereeing for years. You can deal with a certain amount of that. What you can't deal with is a lack of integrity. And if they don't have integrity, they can't be out here, stealing the dream of 18-year-old kids. We dream just like they (Melrose) did. We wanted to play just like they did."
Burke coach: calls against team were 'a pattern'
Marcins maintained that the red card issued to his player was the wrong call.
"He did not touch him," he said. "If there was a card, it should have been issued against the Melrose player for diving."
Asked if he was upset with just that one call, Marcins said, "it's a pattern." Asked if it was a pattern throughout this particular game, he said, "There were calls that weren't fair. Now I'm sure the Melrose coach felt the same way. But there were calls that weren't fair from my point of view."
Near the end of the first half, with Melrose leading 1-0, some of the Burke players showed frustration with the referees' calls, as one Burke player was knocked down and cried out loudly and his teammate turned to the referee and said, "Come on, ref."
The referees awarded a free kick to Burke, the 19th seed in the tournament, and a Melrose player gave the Burke player still on the ground a friendly tap on the back while he ran back on defense.
Before speaking with reporters, Marcins was talking on a cell phone saying, "I've seen this before" and "We have no recourse." He told reporters he was speaking with Boston Public Schools Athletic Director Ken Still.
Asked what Still told him, Marcins said, "there's nothing he can tell me, really.
"It's just, you know, 'gotta rise above it,' but it's easy to say. It's very easy to say," Marcins said as two Melrose Police officers, called to the Knoll after the game ended, asked Marcins to wrap up speaking with reporters and join his team on the Burke school bus.
Asked if he had regrets about the game, Marcins said, "No, no," adding that his team was playing "pretty well" in a 1-1 game with 35 minutes left.
"(Melrose) had some good chances in the first half and we did too," he said. "I don't have any regrets. The regret is the guys, the referees that are one-sided. That's my regret. That's my fear. It's more fear than a regret, because I've seen it over and over again."
Melrose coach: 'unfortunate' way for game to end
Serino said he believed the rule is that a team whose coach receives a red card automatically forfeits the game.
"Unfortunately, I knew that rule. The coach gets red carded and the game's over," he said. "Regardless of the score, no matter what …. I've been in the opposite position, unfortunately—that was a long time ago."
Serino said it was "unfortunate" that the situation escalated and the game ended the way it did.
"I just feel bad for the kids: our kids and their kids," he said. "Their kids wanted to play, too. Things don't go your way in life and sports—that's why you play, to learn those lessons. We have been in situations where our kids have the heat of moment get the best of them, so we try to teach them that. I guess that's a lesson for all of us."
Serino said he didn't believe his team played "particularly well, to tell you the truth." Burke plays a high-tempo, offense-first and defense-second style, Serino said, that opens up scoring chances for the other team.
"They're always going forward, always going forward ... so you'll have opportunities, but if you don't finish them, they come back and score one," he said. "So all your work, 12 shots, they come back and hit one, and it's evened up."
Melrose controlled the game in the first half, garnering most of the scoring opportunities and swallowing up the midfield, as senior Sam Pham, senior Captain Ryan Joyal, senior Pat McClusky and senior Stevie Vaughan throttled most attempts by Burke to advance the ball into Melrose's end of the field. The few scoring chances by Burke were quickly scooped up by sophomore goalie Zeke Vanier.
The Red Raiders couldn't find the back of the net until 19 minutes in, when freshman Michel Pierre-Gilles, after Pierrot at midfield headed a long pass from the Melrose end towards the Burke goal. Pierre-Gilles flew up the left side of the field and dribbled the ball towards the top of the penalty area before striking the ball home.
Other opportunities in the first half didn't turn out as well. Melrose had several corner and free kicks that either sailed out of bounds, untouched by another Melrose player, or couldn't be gathered by Melrose for a scoring opportunity. With about 10 minutes left in the first half, senior Captain Ryan Joyal took a free kick from almost mid-field, on the right side of the field, and hit the center of the crossbar, with the ball ultimately headed over the goal out of bounds.
"We didn't finish our opportunities that we had," Serino said. "The balls off a corner ... they're a good offensive team, that team. If we finish, the game would've been a different game."
Burke responded quickly in the second half off a throw-in, with a Burke player lofting a strong shot from the left side of the goal just over the fully extended arm of Vanier.
The game ended only moments later.
Assuming Melrose advances, the Red Raiders will travel to Wakefield on Monday at 2:30 p.m. to face Northeast Metro Tech (12-2-2), the third seed in the tournament, which had a first round bye. Serino said he's never coached against Northeast Metro Tech and has to research that team, but is first concerned with his own squad, which will get a boost with the return of its starting sweeper, junior Ben Mack.
"The focus is on us, defensively," Serino said. "We get Ben back. We've got to get that sorted out."