LEE, Maine — The Lee Academy boys soccer team had to forfeit its first four victories this season after it was learned that the required paperwork for one of its players had not been turned in to the Maine Principals’ Association.
“As soon as we found out [Wednesday], we called the MPA,” said Randy Harris, Lee’s athletic director. “We had a game [Wednesday] afternoon. We self-reported [Wednesday] morning, and by the afternoon, he was good to go.”
The Pandas went out Wednesday afternoon and defeated Central of Corinth 4-1, and their record is now 1-5 in Eastern Maine Class C. Lee lost one of the five games the ineligible player participated in.
Lee has eight games remaining, and the next one is Friday at Piscataquis of Guilford, followed by road games next week against Houlton and Penobscot Valley of Howland.
The Pandas then play four of their last five regular-season games at home against Schenck of East Millinocket, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Houlton and Piscataquis, and the other is at Central.
Ty Thurlow, the boys soccer coach, said the Pandas are approaching each game the same as they always have.
“Our focus doesn’t change,” he said. “Play well, play fair and win the game. … No one game means any more to us than it did five days ago.”
With the academy marketing itself heavily in Asia, especially China, a number of international students now attend Lee and some of them play sports. The school’s success in various sports has made it a lightning rod in the state in the debate about the competitive balance between private and public schools.
Harris declined to name the student or say if the player is an international student.
“We are required to file paperwork on all our players,” he said.
Dick Durost, executive director of the MPA, also declined to name the student as a matter of policy.
“It’s usually not the fault of the player anyway,” so there’s no good reason to name the student, according to Durost.
Durost said this happens 3-5 times statewide each year, and he said Lee’s self-reporting of the issue is the usual way the MPA finds out about it.
“It’s more likely to happen in the fall,” said Durost, adding that it usually involves transfer waiver forms.
“All Lee had to do was file the paperwork,” said Durost, “and within a couple of hours we had the paperwork.”
Transfer waiver forms and other paperwork normally have to be submitted to the MPA before the first countable game of a particular sports season. It can be submitted afterward if the player has been enrolled at the school and taking classes before the start of the sport season.
The Pandas’ four victories came in their first four games: home to Penquis of Milo (3-2) and Penobscot Valley (5-2) and at Mattanawcook (5-2) and Schenck (6-1). Those are all recorded as 1-0 losses now.
Penquis shut out Lee 2-0 at Milo on Monday before the Pandas’ win on Wednesday.
The MPA’s current Heal point standings have been updated with the forfeits.
Thurlow said his players have responded well to the situation and understand the rules.
He pointed to Wednesday’s win over Central as an example.
“Taking an early 3-0 lead and getting a 4-1 win against a solid team was a very good response,” Thurlow said.
He also said the players aren’t griping about the situation they find themselves in.
“At practice today, I didn’t hear one comment about it,” he said. “It’s behind us and we’re looking forward.”