State Soccer Update

May 14, 2007 at 12:44am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

So much for my goal of centering a championship match at State. My first center on Friday went fine, but I didn’t exactly wow anybody. People said I looked tired. I was. Then came the Millard South vs. Columbus boys match on Saturday. Ten minutes into the match I knew I was in trouble. With about 15 minutes left in the first half I subtly warned the alternate official: be ready, because I don’t know if I’ll make it through the game. When halftime came I threw in the towel. I was showing signs of heat exhaustion and I knew there was no way I could do the game justice in the second half. Fortunately, no harm was done to the game because the alternate official was an excellent young referee with international officiating experience. She could out-referee me with her eyes closed.

I suppose I’m not technically out of the running, but if I were in charge of making the decision, I wouldn’t pick me. Even if I were offered the chance to center I don’t know if I would take it. I don’t trust my body. Every season I get more and more sensitive to the heat. I have never had to bail after just one half of soccer until yesterday, even in mid-July tournaments. I ain’t normal, and I’m going to have to figure this out.

Enough about me. I want to comment on two situations from yesterday. Both of them involve officiating-related controversies that were caught on tape by KOLN/KGIN cameras. The first involved a Pius X player who was disqualified for violent conduct. After a foul, the player got up and chest-bumped the opponent. Young players out there: don’t do that. Never retaliate. If you do, you may end up having to sit on the bench during the State Championship game. You don’t want to be on the bench at State. And to those of you who view the video and think “That wasn’t bad enough to deserve a red card!”, remember that this is high school soccer. High school rules deal much more harshly with

unsporting acts

misconduct. The call was 100% correct.

The second situation came during the Pius X and Elkhorn girls game. With just a couple minutes left, the referee awarded a penalty kick to Elkhorn. The kicker scored, and that ended up winning the game. The Journal Star gave Pius X coach Jeremy Ekeler lots of room to speak:

“I think it’s too bad that it came down to an official’s call with two minutes left,” said Ekeler, who is heading to Chicago to become a graduate assistant coach at St. Xavier University. “I don’t understand why we can’t decide it on the field of play. I don’t understand why he had to step in.

“I wanted a chance to do it five times in a row, but I feel that chance was taken from us. The chance was taken from Pius to be in our fifth straight. I don’t know how it would’ve ended, but I would’ve liked to be able to play to figure it out.”

Coach Ekeler’s complaint is lame for a couple reasons. First, the referee “had to step in” because that is his job. A Pius X player took an opportunity away from her opponent, the referee saw that, and he punished the infraction accordingly.

Second, notice that Coach Ekeler is never once quoted as saying that what happened on the field was not a foul. Go ahead, watch the video (start at 1:40) and tell me there wasn’t a foul. Also note that the Elkhorn player had to leave the game with a bloody nose. I’ll go ahead and ask the classic rhetorical question: Do you suppose Coach Ekeler would be fine with a referee not calling that a foul if it were his player on the ground with two minutes remaining in the match?

Amusing anecdote: An acquaintance of mine witnessed an exchange between an NSAA official and Coach Ekeler after the game. Ekeler was furious and demanded to know how a referee could call “that foul” so near the end of the match, to which the NSAA official responded: “So you admit it was a foul?” The coach did not answer. As the exchange continued, the NSAA official whipped out a rule book and said “Show me in here where it says a referee should not call that foul in a close game.” End of conversation.

Don’t get me wrong. There is probably more referee discretion built into soccer than most any other sport. There are situations where I would more or less agree with Coach Ekeler’s argument. This is not one of those situations. I find it difficult to believe that any person can watch that video (and know that the player had to leave the game with a bloody nose) and think “that was nothing”.

Reply to this post

The Comments

Mr. T May 14, 2007 at 3:36am

Too bad about the Saturday match. Not enough sleep perhaps?

Dave K May 14, 2007 at 3:35pm

1. The ejection: The reason given for the red card was violent conduct (or was it unsporting behavior, like you mentioned?).  If that’s considered violent conduct, then high school soccer has seriously changed in the 10 years since I played.  And it’s incredibly weak if that level of unsporting behavior warrants a red card (referees still carry yellows, right?).  I haven’t seen a weaker red card in high school soccer since Steve Stepanek gave Ty Gifford a straight red card for saying ‘damn’.

Also, the video shows the other ejection from the game, the Pius assistant coach.  Are red cards now shown to non-players?

 

2. The PK: Do you really think a team’s season needed to end on that play?  Ekeler wasn’t arguing that it wasn’t a foul (though I would have), he was asking if the game should be ended on that type of play.  Should it have? The NSAA official should have answered that question instead of asking another.  You can call it ‘technically a foul’ all you want, but to end those girls’ season on that play is ridiculous.  Again, maybe it wasn’t ‘nothing’, but it certainly wasn’t worth ending a team’s season over. This, and the extremely questionable call in last year’s final, could raise some eyebrows.

 

It’s the logic, reasoning, and judgment of the officials involved in the incidents above (and yours, unfortunately) that ensures the United States, and Nebraska, will never be respected as far as soccer officiating goes.

 

...good luck to the Pius boys in the final!

Mr. Wilson May 14, 2007 at 4:10pm

The ejection: The reason given for the red card was violent conduct (or was it unsporting behavior, like you mentioned?).

I didn’t call it unsporting behavior. I called it violent conduct. I did refer to the umbrella of “unsporting acts”; to be more clear I should have used the word “misconduct” in that context. I fixed the wording above.

Also, the video shows the other ejection from the game, the Pius assistant coach.  Are red cards now shown to non-players?

In NFHS rules, yes. I won’t say it has “always” been that way, but it has been that way for many years.

You can call it ‘technically a foul’ all you want…

You don’t think a forearm to the face is a foul? Reasonable people will disagree on whether or not the defender unfairly charged the attacker, but I can’t fathom how a person could argue that the defender’s arm smacking the attacker’s face (resulting in a bloody nose) was trifling. If you want to blame an individual for ending Pius X’s season on that play, blame the sloppy defender. But that would require one to ignore the role of the remainder of the 80-minute match in determining the outcome.

It’s the logic, reasoning, and judgment of the officials involved in the incidents above (and yours, unfortunately) that ensures the United States, and Nebraska, will never be respected as far as soccer officiating goes.

I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. U.S. referees have more respect on the international stage than ever before, and Nebraska is making quite a name for itself in the U.S. in NCAA, USSF, and FIFA competitions. Considering how mediocre the soccer is around these parts, Nebraska’s referees do remarkably well.

Your complaint begs the question: If your interpretation and application of the laws/rules of the game are so stellar, why don’t you do the game a favor and grab a whistle? I have asked you that before. Will 2007 be the year?

bossy boss May 14, 2007 at 5:43pm

Soooooo, Dave K won’t pick up the whistle.  Maybe he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does.  I’ve found that to be the case of many.  They complain, usually because a call goes against “their” team, but they don’t know enough to be unbiased.
It takes a special person first to have the guts to be a ref, unpire, etc. and not many people have the knowledge to do it plus it takes an unbiased person to actually do it.
Mr. Wilson sound like he has it together; keep up the good work Mr. Wilson!

Dave K May 14, 2007 at 6:48pm

<i>You don

Mr. Wilson May 14, 2007 at 7:20pm

As I previously told you, my refereeing days are over.

I must have misunderstood. I thought you just couldn’t do it now (due to injury). I didn’t realize you had written it off altogether. Drat, one more to remove from the “maybe” list.

If I need to become a referee in order to discuss refereeing with you, that’s great.

No such thing was stated or implied, though speaking generally, certain matters are easier to discuss with those with direct and recent experience.

D.M.B. May 14, 2007 at 7:24pm

Reffing has made me more unbiased than I think the average fan.  I now look at situations from both sides and don’t just complain when the call goes against my team.

The chest bump certainly deserved a red card.  You want to stop that kind of behavior immediately.  If you give that kid a yellow card what is stopping another kid from doing it?  And then another?  You have to give them all yellows because you’ve set a pattern for leniency.  Then sooner or later you’ll get a punch thrown and all hell breaks loose.  If I saw that in a baseball game, it would warrant an immediate ejection.

As for the Elkhorn situation.  I can see what Dave is saying, that its unfortunate that their season ended on a boarder line call like that.  No ref wants to become the center of attention in a late game situation like that.  (ok that’s not true, most refs don’t)  But if he thought it was a foul then you have to call it.

Dave K May 14, 2007 at 7:27pm

Ah yes, I went back and read that email and I did leave this fall open as a possibility. I’m not sure how I’d emotionally handle being on a soccer field and not playing.  We’ll see what happens, but I’d still have to find the desire and the time to do it.

Dave K May 14, 2007 at 7:50pm

<i>The chest bump certainly deserved a red card.  You want to stop that kind of behavior immediately.  If you give that kid a yellow card what is stopping another kid from doing it?  And then another?  You have to give them all yellows because you

CG May 16, 2007 at 7:29pm

So it was the referee’s fault for the foul (and not the player’s)? I fail to see your logic Dave K.

Duffman May 18, 2007 at 9:43pm

Thats like saying that calling Pass interference on the final play in a football game is the Refs fault.  Also if they would have scored before the foul it wouldn’t have one the game so don’t blame the ref blame that whining coach for not coaching better.

Duff Out

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

The Blogs

Syndication icon

Toolbox