In order to restructure the program, Bishop McGann-Mercy High School has decided not to field a varsity boys soccer team this fall season.
The school wants to make sure the varsity is able to compete with upperclassmen, mostly seniors, and not with just freshmen, sophomore and juniors.
“We’re looking at the program to see what fits Mercy best,” Mercy athletic director Melissa Edwards said Monday. “We want to build it from the bottom up. We want to put out strong teams.”
The Monarchs’ (0-14, 0-12) finished last out of seven Suffolk County League VII teams last season.
No decision has been made as to whether the school will field a junior varsity team this year. That will be determined when preseason practice and tryouts commence Aug. 22.
“It depends on who is trying out,” Edwards said. “I can’t make any decision until the tryouts.”
A boys soccer team will “definitely” compete at the junior high level, Edwards said. The Monarchs have struggled finishing recent seasons.
In 2014, Mattituck was forced to cancel its Senior Day in its final home game of the season because Mercy couldn’t field a team due to injuries and suspensions. Last year the Monarchs had 11 players for its season finale, Tuckers coach Will Hayes said.
Mercy’s decision has forced League VII coaches to search for games to fill out their schedules as most schools in other leagues are booked up.
League schools have been hit by a double whammy as The Ross School in East Hampton decided not to field a varsity soccer team as well.
Greenport athletic director and boys soccer coach Chris Golden said he has perused the Section XI website, looking for teams that have open dates. It has been next to impossible to find a foe, he said, although he did secure a game against Rocky Point, a Class A school.
“For us this late in the game, there is not any room on anyone’s schedule to accommodate a non-league game,” said Golden, who added that teams looking for opponents are “going to have to scramble.”
“This is the nature of the small schools,” he said. “I get it.”
Added Hayes: “Most everybody’s non-league schedule was set up and most guys have packed their bags and gone on vacation. … It kind of leaves you hanging and scrambling for games. It’s really a frustrating part for us.
“Speaking to some other coaches, there are a lot of people who are very upset right now. They have a right to be.”
Southold coach Andrew Sadowski, the dean of North Fork soccer coaches who will enter in his 23rd season, admitted the 11th-hour changes were “frustrating.”
The First Settlers added League VII rivals Center Moriches and Babylon in second games that will count as a non-league matches. They also will play Class A Riverhead from League III.
“For us being a small school, we’re always having to play up,” Sadowski said. “So trying to balance the schedule so we can be competitive for larger schools we have to play against is always a trick itself.”
During the offseason, Leagues VII and VIII were merged for soccer. Wyandanch and Southampton became Class A schools and joined League VI and with no Mercy and Ross, the league was revamped. It holds only three Class B schools — Mattituck, Center Moriches and Babylon. League VII has four Class C sides — Southold, the defending county champion, Greenport, Pierson/Bridgehampton and Port Jefferson — and one Class D school — Smithtown Christian.
When school resumes in September, teams engage in scrimmages and non-league matches to prepare for the league season. It is more difficult to schedule non-league games later on because teams sometimes play three matches in a week and need days off for rest and practice. Southold, for example, must play four foes within a seven-day period in mid-October and will have games on consecutive days between Stony Brook and Babylon Oct. 13 and 14, respectively.
Photo Caption: Former Mercy soccer player Bereket Watts, left, pictured in 2014. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)