Torrington girls soccer coach Mario Longobucco has had no regrets or second thoughts on his decision to forfeit the Oct. 25 game at Derby.
In the first scheduled game the two Naugatuck Valley League teams played on Sept. 25 in Torrington, an incident occurred late in the game, where Torrington player Allison Dudek was attacked as detailed in an account on LitchfieldCountySports.com, which was at the game.
The alleged player in question for Derby was going to play in the rematch. So Longobucco chose to forfeit the game and the school backed him up.
“Speaking only for myself and not for anyone else in the Torrington School system, I am deeply disappointed in Derby’s inability or unwillingness to deal with this matter in a way that is appropriate considering the injuries sustained by our girl. Allie hasn’t been to school for a full day since September 25,” Longobucco told Tim Gaffney from LitchfieldCountySports.com last week.
When reached for further comment, Longobucco stood by what he said.
“Here in Torrington, our administration does not ask the student if they think they should sit out a game, have detention, be suspended or whatever the case may be. I guess they do things differently in Derby,” Longobucco said in an email requesting comment.
There were no yellow or red cards distributed in the first contest when the incident occurred, but the game was halted at that point, a 1-0 Torrington victory. Longobucco said this week that Dudek did not play for the remainder of the season “and in fact hasn’t spent a whole day in school since then” due to the injuries she suffered.
Both schools reached an agreement to have a restorative meeting at CIAC headquarters in Cheshire on Oct. 22. Derby principal Martin Pascale said in an email that Derby girls soccer coach Francisco Salazar, school athletic director Matt Bradshaw and four student-athletes, including two members of the soccer team, were present at the meeting.
Torrington athletic director Mike McKenna joined Longobucco and four Torrington student-athletes at the meeting. Torrington superintendent Susan Lubomski, in a press release from the school, called the student’s committee a Class Act Council that was developed for this meeting.
Pascale, Lubomski, Longobucco and the CIAC all agreed the meeting was a positive experience.
Pascale declined to comment about any discipline handed down for any of Derby’s players involved in the incident.
So when Torrington found out the alleged player in question was going to play in the Oct. 25 rematch, the school called the CIAC on Oct. 24 to forfeit the match, confirmed by CIAC media liaison Joel Cookson.
“We have decided to forfeit to allow sufficient time for healing,” Lubomski said in the release.
The CIAC also released a statement regarding the situation:
“CIAC continues to serve as a resource for both schools as they work to resolve their differences even as they reached the decision to forfeit (the Oct. 25) game as is their prerogative,” the statement said. “CIAC is hopeful the schools will remain proactive in reaching a solution to this contentious challenge.”
Cookson said there have been double forfeits in CIAC contests before.
When asked if forfeiting was a consideration, Pascale said, “There was no consideration of forfeiting the game, as thirty days and eight additional contests had transpired since Derby and Torrington had last played — the feedback from the restorative conference was positive and we felt that this would be an opportunity to move forward with the two teams.”
Both teams have completed their seasons.
“Our athletes at THS are held to a much higher standard and I can say with 100 percent certainty that if the roles were reversed that our administration would have handled this much differently and much more swiftly,” Longobucco told LitchfieldCountySports.com. “…We have to do what is best for the physical and mental well-being of our players regardless of the wins and losses.”