By Joe Scalzo
Just after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, after both the Cardinal Mooney and Poland girls soccer teams had warmed up, gone through team introductions and stood for the national anthem, head referee Dusty Mathews blew the whistle to begin the Division II district semifinal at Valley Sports.
Four seconds later, he blew the whistle again, yelled “The field is unplayable” and began walking to his car. The game was rescheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Girard High School. Fans who still have their ticket stubs from Wednesday's game will be admitted free.
The immortal philosopher Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes fame) once said, “A good compromise leaves everybody mad,” and Wednesday’s decision was no different.
Mooney coach Frank Sikich felt the field was wet, but playable.
“The field has some soft spots but everybody’s played on worse in this weather this fall,” he said. “It’s very disappointing.”
Poland coach John Cavalier felt the field was wet and unplayable — and that the game should have been moved to another site long before 7. There had been discussions about moving it to Girard earlier in the week, but those talks broke down, he said. (Mooney’s boys hosted Tuesday’s district semifinal at East Palestine.)
“When you come to a facility and you can’t even warm up for 30 minutes on the field because it’s so unplayable, that’s a problem,” said Cavalier, who said his team practices on grass during the week. “I don’t expect them to come to our place because we have turf — that’s not right — but we can’t play on this.”
The fans may have been the most upset, since they were denied refunds on the grounds that the game had officially started. (Student tickets cost $4 and adult tickets were $6.) The ticket-takers threw up their hands and blamed the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
Making matters worse, Mathews made no secret of his postponement plans before the game.
“It’s going to be [postponed],” Mathews said 10 minutes before it started, citing the mud in front of both goals and the standing water at various spots. “Until the game starts, it’s their [Mooney’s] field. Once the game starts, it’s my field.”
The game is sure to add drama to the schools’ rivalry, which, in recent years, has played out mostly in tournament games. (The schools played each other in the regular season in just two sports this fall: girls golf and girls tennis.)
Calvin also once said, “Nothing helps a bad mood like spreading it around.”
Consider it spread.