Bishop Ford boys' soccer coach Barney Cassidy said he plans on filing an official protest of his team's 2-1 loss at Monsignor McClancy with the CHSAA for what he deemed an unsafe and hostile environment at the East Elmhurst school on Friday afternoon.
"It was crazy," Cassidy said. "I was worried about my kids."
As of Monday night, though, the league had not received an official protest, which needs to be signed by the Bishop Ford athletic director and principal.
"I can't comment on that until a protest is filed," CHSAA 'B' soccer commissioner Vincent Catapano said. "We will get all the details and then make decisions after that."
Cassidy, who has coached Bishop Ford for six years, said a crowd of about "50 or 60" spectators threatened his players during what was a physical Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan 'B' division match.
When the game ended, the Falcons were escorted out of a side gate to the safety of their bus, away from the fans assembled at the main entrance to the field. McClancy players also refused to participate in the traditional post-match handshake with Ford.
"We shouldn't go to some field where we can't go out the same way we came in," Cassidy said.
But according to McClancy athletic director Gerry O'Riordan, the reason the Ford players were escorted out of a side gate was because Ford player James Caicedo allegedly incited the crowd with a vulgar gesture and explicit language after scoring a late penalty kick goal. He also said he told the McClancy players not to shake hands after the game to make sure hostilities didn't escalate.
"Absolutely no way anything was going to happen," O'Riordan said. "The principal and assistant principal were there ...There was never going to be a problem. I was just insuring there wasn't a problem."
O'Riordan, a former soccer coach at McClancy, was ejected from the game after complaining to the referee about its physical nature.
"Someone has to explain to me what an athletic director is doing on the field," Cassidy said. "And yet, nothing happens to the team."
O'Riordan said he was on the field to attend to goalkeeper Peter Pipia, who was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center by ambulance for a concussion suffered on a challenge O'Riordan and McClancy coach Adrian Caballero deemed dangerous. The game was delayed about 30 minutes because of Pipia's injury.
"I don't regret what I said and I still feel that way," O'Riordan said. "I was fearful for the safety of our kids. The last thing I want to do is go to the hospital with a player, which is what I did."
There was no foul on the play and Cassidy offered to show O'Riordan a replay of the collision on video. O'Riordan declined.
Caballero, though, would like the video of the game to be shown.
"I hope somebody gets to see that video footage," he said. "I'd be delighted."
About midway through the second half, Caballero was also sent off by the referee after complaining about a penalty kick call and will have to serve a two-game suspension. The second-year coach, though, plans to appeal.
"I did not curse once at the referee and he gave me a straight red card simply because I questioned the basis of his call," Caballero said. "I told him that he should have put his cards to (better) use."
While Cassidy said his players were being threatened by McClancy fans on the sideline opposite the team benches, he also said the Crusaders displayed poor sportsmanship by constantly kicking balls over the fence with a 2-0 second-half lead and claiming there were no other balls to use in a time-wasting tactic.
"Their players kicked the ball over the fence probably 30 different times," Cassidy said. "The home team is responsible for supplying balls and they were constantly kicking them over the fence and the coach told them not to run after it. You can't take a game away from someone better than they did."
Not surprisingly, Caballero had a different take on any possible gamesmanship with a comment directed at Cassidy.
"Not once did he ask me about soccer balls or to hurry up with a ball," Caballero said. "We had plenty of soccer balls. That was never an issue. Hostile environment? Your team and your inability to control your players is what led to an environment that wasn't even directed at your players."
One thing all parties agree on, though, is that the referee missed several calls during the game that led to the increased physicality. But Caballero said the blame also lies with Cassidy and his team.
"The referee had no control over the game," Caballero said. "On the other hand, you had a coach who stood by and watched his players engage in dirty, classless soccer. Their unsportsmanlike conduct is beyond me."
With the win, McClancy remains in first place in Brooklyn/Queens 'B,' two points in front of second-place Bishop Ford. The two teams meet on the final day of the regular season, Oct. 22, at Aviator Field.
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