One day after an altercation during a White Plains boys soccer game at New Rochelle High left one player with a broken jaw and another facing criminal charges, many of those involved were still shaken by the incident.
“Everyone is kind of thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ ” New Rochelle athletic director Steve Young said.
“We have to remember that this is a co-curricular activity. We have to be able to tie these educational components into the games,” he said.
White Plains junior Ozzie Escobedo remained hospitalized after surgery on his broken jaw Thursday. He was punched in the face during an in-game altercation with a New Rochelle player Wednesday.
New Rochelle police confirmed that Stefedson Dieudonne, 17, was charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, after the incident, which led to the postponement of the scoreless game about a minute before halftime.
As a result, the White Plains-New Rochelle varsity and junior varsity girls soccer games that were scheduled to be played on Thursday were postponed.
“My goal is to make it up,” Young said. “It’s too important not to. I don’t want to punish the girls for what has taken place. That’s not fair to them. Where we play that game and what we do, I don’t know. That’s a conversation that we have to have.”
The Tigers and Huguenots are known to have one of the fiercest rivalries in the area, and Young said that he and White Plains athletic director Jennifer DeSena will have discussions to ensure that future contests are controlled and safe.
Emotions tend to run high in rivalry games, such as what occurred after last year’s Sleepy Hollow-Ossining football game.
A fight erupted involving spectators off campus, and now both schools are taking extra precautions for their upcoming game at Sleepy Hollow on Oct. 19.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Sleepy Hollow athletic director Chuck Scarpulla said.
“We want to curtail it as much as we can to make sure that sportsmanship is important to both communities. We’re trying to do all of the positive things that we can to enhance the game, ” Scarpulla said.
To encourage sportsmanship and camaraderie, the principals, athletic directors, coaches and team captains for Sleepy Hollow and Ossining will meet for a lunch on the Tuesday prior to this year’s game.
Steps already had been taken to prevent any incidents during White Plains-New Rochelle soccer games due to incidents in years past
Rather than having their benches on the same sidelines, each team was positioned on opposite sides of the field for Wednesday’s game.
“Section 1 has been very good about assigning two 1A officials – those are the top-rated officials, and all of our ratings are done by coaches – to those priority games,” said Rich Leaf, Westchester-Putnam Approved Soccer Officials Association president. “(Wednesday’s) game was officiated by two 1A officials.”
A concern for New Rochelle and White Plains administrators is preventing any retaliation.
Social media lets students take public jabs at each other, and there has been some back and forth since Wednesday’s incident.
“What’s disconcerting is that when you try to explain to the kids to stay off of it, and then you find out later that it’s happened, then it becomes a problem,” Young said.
“That’s a much bigger piece to the puzzle that we didn’t have before,” he said.
Photo by Carucha L. Meuse/The Journal News