ST. GEORGE — Desert Hills High School girls soccer coach Benji Nelson confirmed reports Wednesday afternoon that the Thunder would have to forfeit four games after a player was ruled ineligible.
“It was discovered unfortunately after we played our preseason games and our first region game against Snow Canyon. So we self-reported the findings to the UHSAA (Utah High School Activities Association) once we recognized she was ineligible.”
Schools typically self-report violations as soon as they find out in order to avoid harsher penalties. The USHAA handbook states, “in cases in which there is not a dispute as to the occurrence of a violation (i.e. self-report of a violation by a school), the Region Board of Managers shall hear reports of violations and actions taken by the offending school in response to the violation, and adopt recommendations regarding penalties to be imposed.”
The handbook also states that a player, “cannot fail more than one subject in the preceding grading period; and, must have obtained a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0, for the preceding grading period, based on a 4.0 scale or its equivalent.”
Desert Hills will have to forfeit their first four games of the season, in which they played Salem Hills, Skyridge, Orem and Snow Canyon. Three of those games were originally wins for the Thunder.
With the forfeit of their first Region 9 game, Desert Hills’ record in region play will now be 2-2 (2-5 overall), which moves them to fifth in the standings. Previously, they were in a four-way tie for first place with Snow Canyon, Cedar and Pine View. The change will take effect immediately.
Desert Hills finished last season tied for second in Region 9 and made the class 4A state playoffs, where they lost in the first round to Mountain Crest.
“It is disappointing to have three wins taken away,” Nelson said. “All we can do is recognize our mistake and move forward. It will affect our ranking, and we will need to focus and work harder to position ourselves the best we can to try and still win the region and prepare for state.”
Desert Hills has nine region games left to play.
Nelson wants his team to take this as a life lesson.
“Sometimes errors or mistakes are made,” he said. “If we learn to recognize when a mistake is made and do our best to reconcile the error, we will be stronger and better. Even if it hurts a little.”
The Thunder also have four games left against current top-ranked teams in the region. Desert Hills girls soccer will next take on Cedar in an away game at 4 p.m. Thursday.
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