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Wilson admits using ineligible player in state final win over Radnor

Radnor's Jackson Birtwistle dribbles upfield while Wilson's Ethan Stitzel sticks with him Saturday during the PIAA Class 4A title game. (Bill Rudick/For Digital First Media)

The end of the PIAA Class 4A boys soccer final between Radnor and Wilson featured a historic dose of controversy. It may have been just the beginning, though.

Wilson fielded an overage player on its state-title winning team, the school district’s superintendent shared in an announcement Thursday, and the school and PIAA are investigating.

“On Tuesday, we discovered a discrepancy between records regarding the age of a student athlete on our Varsity Boys Soccer team,” Wilson superintendent Dr. Richard H. Faidley wrote. “Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) rules clearly prohibit a student athlete from participating if they have reached 19 years of age before July 1 of the immediately preceding school year. Upon further review, we found that the student and his guardian failed to disclose his correct date of birth on several required documents, including the PIAA Comprehensive Initial Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation. The District’s internal inquiry, assisted by its solicitor, revealed that the student knowingly entered an incorrect date of birth, and his actual date of birth renders him ineligible to participate in interscholastic activities.

“The Wilson School District recognizes that we have an obligation to report the infraction to the PIAA. We are also taking corrective actions to ensure against a recurrence. Once the PIAA has reviewed our situation, we will provide an update to our community.”

Faidley contacted Radnor’s administration about the issue as part of the disclosure process.

Per the PIAA’s By-Laws’ “Maximum Age Rule,” “A student shall be ineligible for interscholastic athletic competition upon attaining the age of nineteen years, with the following exception: If the age of 19 is attained on or after July 1, the student is eligible, age-wise, to compete through that school year.” Waivers can be sought on a per-sport basis but require certain conditions and procedures that apparently were not followed in this instance.

The final’s ending at HersheyPark Stadium was controversial enough. Wilson’s Victor Vottero won the game with 17 seconds left, his shot judged to have fully crossed the goal line in the eyes of a trailing ref before being swept away by Radnor defender Josh Savadove. The goal stood, the only marker in a 1-0 decision for Wilson.

The use of an overage player can force Wilson’s forfeiture, but it is unlikely to afford the trophy to Radnor. The PIAA’s By-Laws, Article XIII, Section 3D, governing “Penalties” states that, “If a Team required to forfeit a Postseason Contest has won a Contest … following the final Inter-District Championship Contest, the championship in that sport will remain vacant for that year.”

Wilson’s home district, District 3, and the PIAA main office in Mechanicsburg will handle the investigation, per two sources with knowledge of the process. Only then would District 1 or Radnor be involved.

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