No fans allowed at Chapel Hill vs. Athens soccer game Monday

The stands are noticeably empty for Monday's junior varsity soccer game between Chapel Hill and Athens at Bulldog Stadium in New Chapel Hill. (Courtesy Michael Aaron/KYTX)

With a chance to move into second place in the standings on the line and the game tied between Chapel Hill and Athens, the Bulldogs broke through and scored the game-winning goal with 14 minutes remaining Monday at Bulldog Stadium in New Chapel Hill.

Chapel Hill won 2-1.

The reaction from the Chapel Hill supporters to the goal was, well, there was no reaction - because there was no one from either team in the stands.

A joint decision was made by the administrators of Athens and Chapel Hill to not allow fans at Monday's game after a fight between players and fans of the two teams occurred in their meeting on Feb. 17 in Athens.

Besides the two teams and coaching staffs, referees and those in charge of running the scoreboard and game clock, the only live bodies at Bulldog Stadium were from CBS-19 in Tyler and Athens Daily Review sports editor Joe Ellerson.

The media was initially included in the ban, but that was rescinded three hours before kickoff.

"It was weird that no one was there," Ellerson told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. "No one was in the stands or anything. No one was really at the gate. I stayed on field doing photographs and covering the game like I always do."

Ellerson said the junior varsity game also featured empty stands. Once the varsity contest ended, neither team was available for postgame comments. As for whether parents waited in the parking lot for their children during either game, Ellerson said he did not notice any pickups by parents.

"No one was even in the parking lot, just the player vehicles," Ellerson said. "Athens went to their bus and went back and Chapel Hill players went to their cars and left."

When talking about the game itself, Athens coach Jonathan Ryal was disappointed with how things ended up.

"I think this decision was made based on player safety," Athens coach Jonathan Ryal told Ellerson. "It is not fair to keep everybody out for one game. It is not anything that I had a hand in."

Chapel Hill ISD superintendent Dr. Donni Cook commended both teams' coaches for their handling of the situation.

"There are more games coming and both teams need to play as hard as they can so (fans) can be in the playoffs and have the opportunity to go see as many games as they can before the season ends," Cook said.

- CBS-19 contributed to this report


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