HS Notebook: 400 wins, hazing, wild finish

HS Notebook: 400 wins, hazing, wild finish
by Will Parchman
October 16, 2014

Win benchmarks don’t define coaching careers, necessarily, but they do help reflect back the years spent in the trenches. When Miller Bugliari hit 800 career wins earlier this fall, the number itself was only a casing that held Bugliari’s kaleidoscope of memories and achievements at Pingry School over his long career. 

Last weekend, Martin Jacobson tallied up a landmark win of his own. The Martin Luther King High School boys soccer coach picked up his 400th career win when MLK topped Rhode Island outfit Shea 1-0. Shea took over the program in 1994, and since that time he’s racked up an unbelievable record of 400-17-6, a winning clip of 94 percent. At this pace, he’ll knock down just about every record out there.

"I would like to thank all those former and current players, volunteer coaches, friends and family for helping the program at the Martin Luther King Educational Campus achieve this wonderful accomplishment," Jacobson told Big Apple Soccer. "Onward now to the Quest for the Cup as the season winds down and the playoffs are near."

That quest has legs, it would seem. MLK held firm at No. 5 in the latest FAB 50 boys rankings, and at 13-0-0 they’re piling ahead toward more postseason glory. With Jacobson cresting the 400 mark this season, anything’s possible. 

Headlines cast pall over Pennsylvania high school soccer 

There are plenty of positives to emerge from high school soccer’s annals each year, but two recent national headlines that’ve emerged out of Pennsylvania haven’t helped its image.

Last week, a high school coach and two players were suspended when an autistic child was duct taped to a goalpost in a hazing ritual at Highlands High School near Pittsburgh. The 16-year-old Austin Babinsack was taped to the post and left alone before an off-duty police officer came upon him and cut him free. One of the most chilling parts of the story came after Babinsack was cut free. Upon attending a soccer game, players labeled him a snitch.

A week later, another story of a different sort of hazing emerged from across the state. A player hailing from West Africa, the heart of the Ebola crisis, was showered with chants of “Ebola” at a recent soccer game. Ibraham Tounkara was ejected from the game after becoming incensed at the chants, and who could blame him? His parents are reportedly still in Guinea, close to the virus’s deadly outbreak. 

The aftershocks of the event were swift. Two coaches from the offending team resigned on Tuesday night, and they could face further disciplinary action.

Playoffs cranking up across the nation

Believe it or not, the fall high school soccer season is beginning to wind down. Seems like only yesterday the season was tying on its collective boots, but here we are, butting up against the start of the winter season. That makes for a raft of exciting matchups across the country, and a number of the nation’s best teams are aiming to stave off the upset bug.

One of those teams early this week was Utah’s Alta High School, perennially one of the state’s top 5A girls programs. The Hawks were seeded No. 2 in the playoffs this year, and they drew a difficult matchup with No. 3 Viewmont in the first round. It ended up being one of the games of the season anywhere in the country. The teams punched and counter-punched during regulation, and they went into overtime tied 4-4. It took a massive comeback from Alta just to get to that point after the Hawks trailed 3-1 just 25 minutes into the game.

But two handball penalties on Viewmont helped swing the balance and tied the game back at 3-3 when Alta converted its penalties, and the Hawks took a 4-3 lead, its first of the game, five minutes into the second half. Viewmont tied the game again - the third tie in regulation - just before regulation ended. That gave way to overtime, and Sadie Mertlich’s finish gave Alta a breathless 5-4 victory to push them forward in the fledgling postseason.

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