Members of the Fairfield girls' soccer team discuss beating York Catholic for the program's first District 3 title. Matt Allibone
When the York Catholic girls' soccer team takes the field in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs Tuesday, it will be without head coach Joe Nattans.
Nattans won't be eligible to coach in the team's next game after he was ejected during Wednesday's District 3 Class 1A title game against Fairfield. The Irish head coach was given two cards in the second half, the second one a red with 18:20 to play in the team's 6-1 loss. It is a PIAA rule that any coach ejected from a contest must miss the following game.
The second card was given after Nattans expressed his displeasure with the referees not calling a foul when a York Catholic player appeared to be taken down. The Irish trailed by three goals at the time.
"All I will say about that is I will always protect the safety of my players and I felt the safety of my players was in jeopardy," Nattans said. "That's why I had to say something. Whether it's a right call or a wrong call, I'll always defend my players, and I felt she was in danger of getting hurt over here.
"Right before that there was a play where a girl literally got run over. Officiating is tough enough to do, I appreciate what they're trying to do, but when the safety of the players is in jeopardy I at least have to stick up for them."
The ejection means York Catholic will have to adjust to playing under assistant coach Milner Sosa during a first-round state playoff game with its season on the line. Sosa, however, isn't an inexperienced coach. He led the York Catholic boys' soccer team to a District 3 Class 1A title in 2011.
The Irish's first-round game will be against District IV Class 1A champion Warrior Run.
"We have a great assistant coach, Milner Sosa will step in and the girls will be fine," Nattans said. "They'll be prepared for the game whoever we happen to play next. They'll be ready."
While the Irish came out strong against Fairfield on Wednesday and kept them off the board for the game's first 25 minutes, they were ultimately unable to stop the Knights' dynamic offense. It was the team's second straight loss in the district title game.
"It's tough enough to get to this game, but to get here two years in a row is something to be happy about," Nattans said. "There's a whole lot of teams that never get here."