UPDATE (Nov. 5, 5 p.m.)—The Perry Hall Gators beat James Hubert Blake High School 2-1 on Saturday. Perry Hall will now advance to the Class 4A North region final against Westminster on Tuesday.
Find live game coverage and commentary in the article, Live: Perry Hall Beats Blake in Post-Bernie Playoff Game.
UPDATE (Nov. 4, 12:16 p.m.)—Perry Hall High School Principal George Roberts announced Friday during a news conference that the decision to end the boys varsity soccer season early had been reversed.
The Class 4A North region semifinal game between Perry Hall and Blake High School will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Blake in Montgomery County.
Check Patch for video and updates, in the article, UPDATE: Principal Reverses 'Bernie' Dance Decision, Season To Continue.
UPDATE (Nov. 3, 7 p.m.)—An anxious crowd of students and parents gathered around Pete Eibner, head coach of the Perry Hall High School boys varsity soccer team, Thursday afternoon in the school's parking lot.
Eibner said he wanted to ensure his players were behaving "like gentlemen" after school principal George Roberts canceled the rest of the team's season, a disciplinary action against players who performed the so-called Bernie dance after a playoff victory against Dulaney High School on Tuesday. Had Perry Hall's soccer season not been halted, the team would have continued in the playoffs.
Earlier Thursday morning, students held a demonstration across the street from the school protesting the season's cancellation. Police responded but there were no arrests, Roberts said.
Read more about the protest in the article, Soccer Season Canceled Over Bernie Dance, Students Protest.
Eibner, a first-year coach who works as a personal trainer, said the dance was miscontrued by parents of Dulaney players and the controversy was a misunderstanding.
Perry Hall senior Ethan Muller scored the game's winning goal in the last two minutes of the playoff game. Afterward, players gathered around Muller, who was standing near Dulaney fans, and performed the dance, Eibner said.
"We feel really remorseful about it," said Muller. "It was a heat of the moment thing ... If the game ended on the other side of the field we would have done the same thing. We didn't purposefully go out to taunt them."
"We've been working together since we were freshmen and to end it like this is just sad," he said.
Eibner said the allegations against the boys were inaccurate.
"I think it's unfair from the standpoint that the kids were accused of doing something malicious, intentional, lewd, vulgar and unsportsmanlike," he said. "They didn't have malice in their hearts as the celebrated. They were celebrating with themselves."
The so-called Bernie dance is an updated reference to the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie's in which the title character, who is dead, has his actions directed by others which results in an awkward limp animation. Some Dulaney fans felt the Perry Hall players' actions were disrespectful.
Read more about the response from Dulaney parents in the article, Dulaney Supporters Unhappy with Perry Hall's 'Appalling' Playoff Game Celebration.
The decision to cancel the season was announced Wednesday at 3 p.m., by Roberts and athletic director Bob Hruz, Roberts said.
"Children should celebrate by cheering each other, giving high fives, hugs and pats on the back. But in my view, a choreographed, celebratory dance is not the way to celebrate victory," Roberts told Patch in an interview Thursday morning.
While Eibner disagreed with the decision to end the players' season early, he said he supported the principal's decision and respected his authority.
"I am not here today to undermine the principal," he said.
Eibner encouraged students to be respectful of the principal and refrain from doing the Bernie dance on school property.
Senior Chris White said he felt nothing but sadness after hearing about the season's cancellation.
"We've got 10 seniors on the team this year and soccer is our lives," White said. "We just want to be heard. We want our season back. We want to play (Friday)."
Senior Ryan Carter said he still didn't understand what was inappropriate about the dance.
"I've never seen a team, rec-level, club-level, high school, professional, where teams don't celebrate when they win a quarter-final regional game," Carter said. "That's insane to just stand there and not do anything."
A small group of parents also gathered outside the school on Thursday to support the team.
Vinnie Magliano, whose son Vinnie is a senior, said he was outraged when he found out the season was canceled.
"The dance could have been construed as wrong. I understand that, but to end the season? These kids worked hard for that," Magliano said.
Carrie Ayd, the mother of a sophomore lacrosse player, described the Dulaney parents who complained about the dance as "sore losers."
"If the principal isn't willing to stand up for his own students, then the parents have to," Ayd said. "If the tables were turned and this were [my son's] lacrosse team, I would hope other parents would come out and support the players, whatever sport, because it's wrong."