A large fight at a high school soccer game has led to a criminal investigation by Maple Grove police and could keep some players out of the state tournament this week.
An on-the-field scuffle broke out between players of Fridley's Totino-Grace High School and Brooklyn Park's Prairie Seeds Academy in a Thursday night game that was supposed to decide which team advanced to the tournament. Instead, some of the players of the winning team may face suspension or even criminal charges.
The Minnesota State High School League has launched its own investigation and could reach a decision by Monday, according to media specialist John Millea. The league has the authority to declare players ineligible.
The fight caught on camera by Channel 12 Sports took place as the game ended at Maple Grove High School's stadium, with Prairie Seeds up 2-1. In the video, it appeared that a Prairie Seeds player was pushed before he turned around and punched the opposing player. Other players and officials swooped in as more punches were thrown in a chaotic scene on the sideline.
Police are still piecing together what happened. This week they will be working on identifying those involved in the assault, said Maple Grove Police Capt. Keith Terlinden.
"We will make the determination on charging those involved at the conclusion of the investigation," Terlinden said.
Prairie Seeds head coach and athletic director Youssef Darbaki said on Saturday that his players told him that members of the other team made derogatory comments during the game that could partly explain the cause of the fight.
"Why would you fight while winning the game?" he said.
Still, players should resist the urge to retaliate, Darbaki said.
Totino-Grace athletic director Mike Smith said the school was still investigating what happened.
"The game was excellent. Again, I just hope that part doesn't get lost," Smith said.
Prairie Seeds is scheduled to play Duluth's Marshall School on Friday in the state quarterfinals.
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet