In the opening game of the season, the Bulldogs' junior varsity team received one red card, and the varsity team received one red card and one blue card.
After eight seasons with the team, Flagler Palm Coast boys soccer coach Reg Monsanto was fired, the Observer was able to confirm from FPC Athletics Director Steve DeAugustino.
The decision to fire Monsanto, who started off as the team’s assistant coach for four years before transitioning to the head coaching position four years ago, stemmed from the Bulldogs’ 2-0 loss to the Matanzas Pirates in the opening game of the season on Monday, Nov. 13. The Bulldogs accrued one red card in the junior varsity game and a red card and a blue card in the varsity game.
Additional red cards throughout the rest of the season could potentially lead to athletic probation and other suspensions.
“I expect a higher standard of sportsmanship,” DeAugustino said. “Especially in a county rivalry, the level of sportsmanship needs to be great, not just fair or poor, because it’s our community. The play represented Flagler Palm Coast High School poorly. … It’s not acceptable to me to represent our school in that way.”
Monsanto was removed from the team following a meeting with DeAugustino on Tuesday, Nov. 14, and was officially fired on Friday, Nov. 17. Assistant coach Troy Stone served as the team’s interim head coach for the Bulldogs’ games against DeLand (Nov. 15) and New Smyrna Beach (Nov. 17) and will continue to serve in that position for the remainder of the season.
DeAugustino said he officially addressed the state of the program with the players on Monday, Nov. 20.
Reg Monsanto’s son Nick Monsanto, who was on FPC’s varsity soccer team before he graduated from the school in 2013, stepped down as one of the team’s assistant coaches.
Nick Monsanto said the Matanzas-FPC boys soccer rivalry has never really had a nasty feel to it.
“It’s been a healthy rivalry,” he said. “A lot of friends are usually split between the two schools. And while you do have a crosstown rivalry, it’s usually friends against friends.”
As head coach, Reg Monsanto’s teams have accrued a total of three red cards, including the season-opener. The last red card came during the 2014 season.
In addition, he was presented by referees with the ECFRA Sportsmanship Award in 2016.
“There were three ejections in one night between the JV and varsity teams, and since I’m the head coach, that’s a reflection on me,” Reg Monsanto said. “That’s unacceptable.”
Both the Monsantos and DeAugustino confirmed there were no prior issues that led to the firing.
DeAugustino was not present during either of the Bulldogs’ games against the Pirates.
“I don’t know how to justify that decision based on one game, especially because he wasn’t there,” said Reg Monsanto, who has helped grow soccer in the area for the past 20 years. “I didn’t really get a chance to defend myself or the boys.”
He added: “It was not a chippy game. But unfortunately, on paper, especially when you’re not present, I can see why that would raise flags. But without further investigation, I’m a little disappointed that it would lead to something so drastic.”
Many of the area's other boys soccer coaches, including at Spruce Creek, Mainland and University, expressed disappointment in FPC's decision to fire Reg Monsanto, the Observer confirmed.
“One bad night changed everything,” he said.