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.
Editor's Note: You can read our follow-up story, which was posted to the site Thursday regarding Perry Hall's response to the "Bernie" dance controversery.
There is cause for celebration whenever the underdog wins, but coaches and parents at Dulaney High School are saying Perry Hall boys soccer took it too far Tuesday afternoon with a what some call a lewd dance that has attracted broad notoriety.
Perry Hall, a No. 10 seed in the Class 4A North region playoffs, knocked out Dulaney, a No. 2 seed, with a late header to seal the 2-1 victory. Instead of advancing to the regional semi-finals however, Perry Hall’s season has been suspended for an “inappropriate” post game celebration, writes Perry Hall Patch editor Emily Kimball. The decision to cancel the balance of the season was made Wednesday at 3 p.m. Reports of the Perry Hall celebration dance have appeared elsewhere on the Internet.
Not surprisingly, among some Dulaney fans, the celebration was criticized.
“I witnessed a Perry Hall victory by a score of 2-1, a game in which the Perry Hall team played better soccer and deserved to win, in my opinion,” begins an email obtained by Patch, written by Dulaney supporter David Carder. “My opinion of your school, and your community, changed immediately after the end of the game to disgust.
“The display by your team—your entire team—at the end of the game will not be forgotten anytime soon by the assembled Dulaney parents, students and supporters.”
The letter was sent to Perry Hall Principal George Roberts. Roberts asked to speak with the Dulaney boys soccer team earlier Thursday but was unable to attend that meeting because of the volume of media requests that Roberts was receiving, according to Dulaney Principal Lynda Whitlock.
The letter goes on to describe what was characterized as a planned, lewd dance that took place in front of Dulaney parents, contrary to earlier reports that the dance took place at midfield.
“Several of the players went much too far, gesturing with their hands and hips in lewd and suggestive movements that showed absolutely no respect or sportsmanship,” the email reads. “Specifically, the movements included thrusting their hips at the crowd, and pointing to their genitals. It was appalling.”
Students at Perry Hall, who protested the season suspension early Thursday morning, maintain that the celebration was merely a popular dance known as the “Bernie,” which has attracted millions of viewers online. The dance supposedly harkens to the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie's in which the title character, who is dead, has his movements directed by others resulting in a limp, awkward animation. Perry Hall students contend that the team performed the dance at the spot where senior Ethan Muller hit the game-winning header.
“It looked like it was taunting and taunting is just not allowed. … I’ve seen brawls start for a lot less than what they did,” said Dulaney head coach Jerry Tana. “They should’ve never gone over to our bench.”
Tana admitted that he did not see the Perry Hall demonstration but was made aware of it by numerous parents, his assistant coaching staff and Dulaney athletic director Michael Lafferty.
“I’m saddened by the turn of the events. No one wants to see their season end like that,” Tana said.
Tana mentioned that Perry Hall coach Pete Eibner apologized after the game.
“I understand their euphoria. But you got to be able to win in grace,” Tana continued. “We’re devastated that we lost. We lost fair and square with two minutes left to go in the game. Had it been four or five kids that came over and did it, I wouldn’t have been as upset nor would the Dulaney community. But you don’t have your whole team run across the field.”
Tana said that the whole situation might have been misconstrued by parents unfamiliar with the so-called Bernie Dance.
"My wife was in the stands and she was upset by the incident and I feel she fell into the swirl of parents who wanted retaliation," Tana wrote in an email to Eibner. "Once we both saw the so-called dance on YouTube, we both realized that possibly what everybody saw may have been misconstrued. I only wish that you and I could have resolved this before it got out of control."
A meeting was held Thursday afternoon at Dulaney High School among both the varsity and junior varsity soccer teams, as well as coaches, athletic director Michael Lafferty and Principal Lynda Whitlock.
“We’re simply proud of our boys and their sportsmanship,” Whitlock said. “We wanted to meet with the boys to just close out their season.”
It is unclear what was discussed during the closed door meeting in the school’s cafeteria.
As a result of the Perry Hall forfeit, James Hubert Blake High School automatically advances to the regional semifinals, to play against either Westminster High School or Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.