OLEAN — The Olean 1854 FC soccer team was looking forward to a season of turf field home games, stronger competition and increased exposure.
It’ll have to wait until next summer for those opportunities.
After initially postponing the start of its season, the Buffalo and District Soccer League, of which Olean has been a member for the last two years, has canceled its 2020 campaign, league officials announced Tuesday. It’s the latest in a long line of local circuits and athletic events wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s for the best right now,” Olean manager Mike Martel said of the official announcement.
Late last month, Martel communicated the BDSL’s contingency plan, which included a reduced schedule and no postseason, for if and when teams could safely return to action this summer. But due to ongoing restrictions and health concerns, that plan won’t be coming to fruition.
Aside from the general nature of the pandemic, the league cited three particular factors in its decision: The timeline for where Western New York is in the phases needed for reopening, a muddled field availability situation and insurance.
“These matters along with others prompted us to make this call,” the BDSL said in a release posted to its website Tuesday. “We understand that this decision might be hard for some to take and others might not agree with this. These times are uncertain to be sure but all five board members believed this to be the correct call at this point.
“... At this point we don’t believe it is right to have players and teams believe that we’re going to be in a position to play this year. We’d rather deliver this news now. It’s truly unfortunate to have all of (this) go by the wayside.”
1854 FC has gone an impressive 22-2-4 in two seasons in the BDSL, considered the premier amateur soccer league in WNY, advancing to the 2nd Division championship in 2018 and winning the 1st Division title in 2019. As a result of its success, it’s earned a promotion after each year and was set to compete in the Championship Division (the league’s second-highest level) this summer. Olean was also going to hold its home games at St. Bonaventure’s Marra Athletics Complex.
The BDSL also announced Tuesday that all teams will be guaranteed their spot for the 2021 campaign, meaning 1854 FC is locked into competing in the Championship Division next summer.
“In the meantime, we wish all BDSLers a happy and healthy summer this year,” the release said. “We’ll be very eager and excited to return to action when the time comes.”