SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Saint Leo University women's soccer team currently has several student-athletes who are exhibiting flu-like symptoms that could be indicative of the H1N1 virus infection and, as a result, the Lions have canceled their upcoming matches this weekend in Pensacola, Fla. against the host University of West Florida and Delta State.
Saint Leo, the preseason favorite to win the Sunshine State Conference, was scheduled to open its Division II schedule this weekend with two contests at host West Florida, the defending NCAA South Region champion.
"Five players from our team have experienced flu-like symptoms" Head Coach Ged O'Connor said. "It's obviously not a good thing to happen to us right now. We need to compete more than anything else, but on the other side, we don't have any other options. These things happen. It's unfortunate, but it's the only thing we can do right now to keep everyone safe.
"We'll take a couple of days off. The good thing is that it will hopefully only last for two or three days and we can get back to practice. We'll do the best that we can, and right now that means staying home and getting everybody well. Hopefully, this won't affect other teams in the future."
O'Connor added: "We're disappointed that we're not going to be able to make the trip. The weekend was one of the highlights of our schedule and two important regional games. We will see if either schedule will allow for a re-schedule."
According to SLU Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy, the affected student-athletes have been excused from practice and their symptoms are being monitored closely. To date, all affected individuals have shown mild symptoms and are quarantined to their rooms per Saint Leo Health Center policy. The student-athletes will return to practice only after the Health Center has cleared them.
"We did not feel we could put our student-athletes at risk, and the other factor involved is our men's team is also making this trip. We could not chance the risk of exposure to them, and possibly have two teams unable to play in the coming weeks," stated Reidy. "It simply has become a student-athlete welfare issue, as well as a consideration for our opponents as well."
Reidy, along with the Health Center and Head Athletic Trainer Barbara Wilson have counseled the team about how infectious diseases such as H1N1 are spread and repeatedly emphasized precautionary measures. They have encouraged any players or staff members who feel sick to immediately report their symptoms to the training room staff and health center.
Click here for guidelines regarding the H1N1 Influenza Virus.