Brawl ends soccer game at Westfield State

WESTFIELD – A brawl broke out in the final seconds of the Division 1 state semifinal game between the Ludlow and Worcester North boys’ soccer teams Tuesday night at Westfield State University, resulting in a call for police presence and leading to one arrest.
With less than a minute to play and Ludlow leading 1-0, a heated exchange ensued between players of both teams and a fight broke out. More than 150 fans jumped the fence and ran onto the field, joining the melee, according to reports from local police and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.
The contest was terminated, and Ludlow was deemed the victor.
“Any time that officials feel the safety to fans or players is compromised, they are required to terminate the game,” said Paul Wetzel, a spokesperson for the MIAA. “That is what they did.”
Campus police, Westfield police, and state troopers from the Russell barracks all assisted in restoring order at Westfield State.
According to Westfield police, fights spilled out into the parking lot following the game, and some suspects allegedly were seen throwing objects at passing cars as the lots were cleared.
Luther H. Nelson, Jr. 46, of 563 West Street, Ludlow, was arrested by Westfield State University police for disorderly conduct and assault and battery on a police officer. According to a statement filed by WSU police officer Brian Kowal, Nelson swung his arm at the officer and advanced on him in a threatening manner, requiring Kowal to use a chemical irritant to subdue him.
Nelson was arraigned Wednesday in Westfield District Court where he admitted to facts sufficient to warrant guilty findings for the charges, which were continued without a finding with probation for three months and he was assessed $50.
As the result of the brawl, officials issued three red cards to Worcester North. Ludlow was issued one. Wetzel said while suspensions are likely to be handed down to Worcester North, it appears Ludlow will not face any repercussions from this incident.
Ludlow High athletic director Tim Brillo said, “It’s unfortunate what happened. It overshadows the kids’ accomplishments.”
Brillo said he would wait for the MIAA to issue an official report before taking any further action.
Wetzel said the MIAA does not plan on making any changes to this tournament or any future ones as a result of the incident.
“Westfield State has hosted our tournaments for a long time,” he said. “They do an excellent job…with security, ticketing, parking. It’s a very well-managed site. They did a pretty good job under a difficult set of circumstances.  It’s really regrettable.”

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