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Soccer playoffs jumbled

First basketball, now soccer.

The good news for the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association is there aren’t any other winter sports left.

The bad news is for the second time in three weeks, the NIAA has had to redo a playoff schedule on the fly, this time choosing to restart the Sunset Region girls soccer playoffs after Shadow Ridge forfeited a regular-season match Tuesday.

Four teams (Bishop Gorman, Centennial, Durango and Sierra Vista) previously eliminated from the playoffs are back in, and Arbor View and Shadow Ridge — who were scheduled to meet in the Sunset Region final — have been sent back to the beginning. And it all starts over today.

"We assumed that we would be playing for the region title. Now we’re not," said Arbor View coach Jay Howard, whose team will play Durango at 4 p.m. today at Bettye Wilson Park. "It’s a tough deal for our kids. We’re not the ones in question, and yet our girls are being punished. I didn’t expect this result."

The NIAA, which had to restructure both its girls and boys Class 4A basketball playoffs when players from Desert Pines and Eldorado were declared ineligible, made the decision Tuesday to have Shadow Ridge forfeit a Jan. 28 match against Legacy.

Unlike the basketball infractions, in which players were ineligible because of absences from class, the Shadow Ridge athlete began the soccer season practicing and scrimmaging with Arbor View’s team before transferring to Shadow Ridge. Athletes cannot compete in the same sport at two schools in the same year and remain eligible.

That forfeit changed the regular-season standings in the Northwest League, moving Shadow Ridge from second to third, with Arbor View moving to second. And that altered playoff matchups.

The first two rounds of the region playoffs were last week with Shadow Ridge bracketed as the No. 2 seed from the Northwest and Arbor View as the No. 3. The change in the standings means those teams should have had different first-round opponents.

Because of that, the NIAA has decided to replay any match that was in any way affected by the reseeding. The two first-round matchups involving top seeds Centennial and Gorman were not affected.

"I feel comfortable with the decision," said NIAA executive director Eddie Bonine, who learned of Shadow Ridge’s eligibility issue Sunday.

Monday’s region final was postponed pending completion of the investigation, which originally determined the Mustangs would forfeit at least four regular-season matches.

But Shadow Ridge’s administration on Tuesday appealed Bonine’s decision, citing rule NAC 386.829 in the NIAA handbook.

Subsection 2a of that rule allows for a school to appeal if it can prove "by a preponderance of the evidence that the school would have won the game … without the participation of the ineligible player."

The athlete started the match against Legacy and was ruled not to have had an effect on the outcome of any other game.

"The system has worked here," Bonine said. "People may not agree with the decision, but the appeal process is there for a reason. I did consult with a soccer official in Southern Nevada who has been officiating for 30 years to get their opinion."

The opinion isn’t popular among some schools. Others get new life.

"I think it’s fair," Gorman coach Lora Feely said. "It’s been an emotional roller coaster. We had everything put away Friday morning. It’s kind of hard to regroup when this has stirred up so much negativity."

Some schools already have had players practice with club teams or move on to spring sports and are looking into eligibility issues that might be brought up.

And in Shadow Ridge’s and Arbor View’s cases, both teams must now win two more matches to get back to where they were heading into the week.

"We’re grateful for that chance," Shadow Ridge coach Harvey Robicheau said. "For the young ladies, it was pretty devastating to get on the bus (Monday) and then get off the bus and be told they weren’t playing. It’s hard to get that look of the devastation on their faces out of your mind."

Shadow Ridge beat Durango and Gorman to get to the final but wouldn’t have played either team had the forfeit been ruled prior to the playoffs.

"The girls know they have to get it done on the field," Robicheau said.

Arbor View’s wins against Sierra Vista and Centennial now mean little.

"Our girls were crushed (Monday)," Howard said. "I have confidence in our kids. It’s a matter of getting refocused."

The NIAA had not decided as of late Tuesday afternoon if there would be an admission charge to today’s two quarterfinal matches or Thursday’s semifinal matches. Because it’s a state tournament, the NIAA foots the bill.

"It’s a strange schedule," NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson said. "We have to rehire officials and pay for tournament personnel. We obviously have to increase the budget."

Meanwhile, Sunrise Region champion Coronado, which won its title Monday, is waiting until March 11 to play for the Southern Nevada state title.

"Whoever we face, it’ll be fine," Coronado coach Dana Neel said. "We just have to try to keep our heads in it. The kids want the next game, and that’ll keep them focused."

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5230.

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