SAUGUS, MA (CBS Boston/CBS Local) - It was Kevin Cucuzza's winning goal that sent the Saugus High School varsity lacrosse team to postseason tournament play in a come from behind win. Then he learned Sunday that he and five other teammates have been suspended.
"It hurts me a little more knowing that I helped get the team there. I've been with the coach and team for four years and we've gotten so much better since freshman year," Cucuzza tells WBZ-TV.
But when pictures circulated showing Cucuzza was one of several members of last Friday's graduating class lighting up cigars following the ceremony, the MIAA stepped in enforcing rules that prohibit student-athletes from using alcohol and tobacco. The consequence is no postseason play.
"I saw teachers there and administrators. No one said anything and it's not like we were huddled in a corner doing it," Cucuzza said.
The players say they feel singled out since post-graduation cigar smoking is considered a tradition that's been tolerated in years past.
"I've seen it at every graduation I've ever been to," he said. "Last year the team went to state tournament and they also smoked cigars. Didn't see a problem then so don't know why it's a problem now."
In a statement, Saugus School Committee member Elizabeth Marchese said, "We are all responsible to some degree, and fingers cannot be pointed at one individual. For years, the smoking of the traditional cigar has been allowed and overlooked at graduation."
Kevin Cucuzza says the players should have been informed the policy was being enforced this year. "How hard we worked is being stripped away from us," Cucuzza said. "We worked for nothing."
Weather cancelled the first tournament game against Pentucket Regional High School and has been rescheduled for Tuesday, June 5.
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