Looking at only one side of the story, the Campbell girls soccer team fell victim not only in a playoff match, but also to mistakes made by the Oahu Interscholastic Association.
But there is another side. The league asserts that due to confusion and miscommunication about the rules on how to break a tie, an unusual decision was made, but ultimately, once that decision was made, there is no going back.
People on both sides of it, however, believe that what transpired was unfortunate. That doesn’t help the Campbell girls, who are distraught that the normal procedures to decide their fate were not employed.
On Jan. 24, Campbell and Aiea played to a 1-1 regulation-time tie in the second match of an OIA playoff doubleheader at Waipahu. The eventual winner would go on to the state tournament and the loser’s season would be done. In the first match of the night, Waipahu prevailed over Castle 1-0 in a match with the same importance. That contest went through two overtime periods and was decided on penalty kicks.
This is where the communication breakdown concerning the second game occurred. Based on multiple sources from both sides, the following occurred: The center referee for the second game informed the Campbell and Aiea coaches that a mistake was made in the first game and that it should have gone straight to PKs with no overtime. The highest league official at Waipahu that night who was in charge of the playoffs told the center referees before both games that the proper way to decide a tied game is to go to overtime and then PKs. Apparently, the center referee for the second game did not understand. Instead of going to OT, the game went to PKs, and Aiea outscored Campbell to give Na Alii a 2-1 win.
“Historically, it’s decided by overtime and penalty kicks,” OIA executive director Ray Fujino said by phone Wednesday.
But there is something else that adds to the confusion. The OIA also follows the Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s tie-breaking procedures for state tournaments. Under that guideline, all tied games not in the championship bracket go straight to PKs. The Campbell-Aiea game was not in the championship bracket. It was, however, a game in which a team advances, and that is typically where the OIA will differ from the HHSAA.
Fujino and Campbell athletic director Sam Delos Reyes agree that it was an unfortunate situation for the Sabers, but that once the game was completed, there is nothing in the rules that call for a game or a part of game to be replayed.
Despite pleas from Sabers coach James Curran and parents of the players, Fujino made the final decision the day after the game.
Another inopportune moment that exacerbated the whole situation and eventually heightened the Sabers’ feelings of being treated unfairly came when Curran got a phone call after the game from the person in charge of the OIA playoffs and was told, incorrectly, that Campbell would get another chance to play Aiea the next day starting with the overtime period to decide the winner.
Delos Reyes believes that the person called Curran and — without having final authority — tried to make amends for the flawed decision that led to no PKs.
“He was trying to do it out of the goodness of his heart, I suppose,” Delos Reyes said.
And so, as it turns out, the events that transpired — however imperfect — were final.
But that doesn’t sooth the Campbell team. Far from it.
“This game was for a spot in the state tournament and because of their actions, our girls have to sit and watch from the sidelines what should perhaps could have been them representing James Campbell High School,” Tracie Morneau, the mom of Sabers player Nicole Morneau, wrote in an email. “The girls were on an emotional roller coaster for 24 hours and we didn’t know how to console them. Everyone involved in this injustice took that moment away from our girls and all they can do right now is wonder what could have been.”
Fujino and Delos Reyes said the league will be discussing how to make changes so that this type of scenario doesn’t happen again.
“It might seem unfair,” Delos Reyes said. “But our girls and Aiea had the same chances to win that game. It wasn’t as if Aiea was given an advantage. And both coaches were told before the game how a tie would be broken. If we won that game on PKs and Aiea wanted to go back and play overtime, I would still feel the same about it and would understand that we would not replay it.”
Said Fujino: “If there is a blackout or bad weather, we would go back and replay, but there is nothing in the rules that call for a completed game to be replayed.”