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Amid hazing allegations, Needham High girls' soccer loses 7-1

Posted by Leslie Anderson  November 9, 2010 08:25 PM

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The Needham High varsity girls' soccer team lost a state tournament game against Brockton tonight amid the controversy over alleged hazing by Needham players.

The Needham Rockets were coached by the junior varsity coach and "were missing players," said Brockton coach Andrea Tassinari.

A Norfolk Superior Court judge ruled earlier in the day that Needham’s principal could bar the team from the game while the school investigates the allegations. The judge also ruled that students who faced suspension over the incident could be prohibited from play.

Despite the ruling, school officials said the game would take place, but did not indicate whether any individual players would be barred from playing.

‘‘The Needham High School Community is saddened about recent events involving the girls’ soccer team,’’ said a statement from the superintendent’s office. ‘‘The high school administration, staff, students, and families urge the local Needham community to support our team as they face Brockton tonight.’’

Parents, fearing the game's cancellation, sought a temporary restraining order preventing the game's cancellation after members of the soccer team were placed on academic suspension from school on Monday, according to court documents.

Parents of the soccer players had gone to court Monday and asked Judge Barbara A. Dortch-Okara for an injunction against Principal Jonathan Pizzi, arguing that he could not legally force the team to forfeit their spot in the tournament this week.

But Dortch-Okara agreed with the school’s legal defense, ruling that since students are not entitled to participate in high school sports, preventing them from participating does not violate their right of due process.

Since the students and their parents did not show that they would likely win the case, Dortch-Okara wrote, she could not grant the injunction.

According to court papers, parents of students on the girls’ varsity soccer team received an e-mail Friday night from Pizzi, banning the team from meeting the entire weekend to practice.

Parents of the players filed a hasty court injunction againt Pizzi, seeking to allow the team to play in this week’s tournament. The case was filed by Todd D. White, father of soccer player Kyra White on behalf of students on the team.

In 2009, Needham cracked down on rowdy behavior during boys hockey games, barring students from one game. Needham fans had engaged in negative chants and heckled representatives from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association in a previous game against Wellesley.

Kathy Burge can be reached at kburge@globe.com.

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