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Question Number: 34025

High School 10/14/2020

RE: Girls Varsity High School

Chester of Stratford, CT USA asks...

An attacker sprinting with the ball in the penalty area was running toward the end line 15 yards to the left of the the goal (not toward the goal) to get beyond the oncoming defender running in from her right. About 10 yards from the end line the attacker made a long touch (toe poke) on the ball so she could get past the defender and turn the corner towards the goal. This caused the ball to squirt away and move quickly to the end line. It did not seem she could catch up to it before the ball crossed the line (i.e. she lost possession of the ball). The defender then collided with the attacker. The contact was firm, and the attacker went down theatrically. She claimed she was fast enough to catch up to the ball and wanted a foul, to no avail. I've seen this play not given as a PK in higher level matches because the attacker appeared to lose possession of the ball. I just wanted to know your thoughts. A goal kick was awarded.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chester
When defenders run towards an attacker and misjudge the timing of a challenge they run the very high of contact being called as either charging or holding. It makes no difference if the attacker is able to regain possession of the ball or not.
Let me pose the same scenario at halfway. The attacker gets to the ball first and toe pokes the ball foward with the intention of following the ball. The defender arrives *late* and makes contact with the attacker knocking her to the ground. I believe that would be a nailed on offence of either charging or holding punished by a direct free kick.
Now we know that inside the penalty area many times the foul threshold gets raised by many referees who if uncertain or believe it is an attempt to *win* a penalty kick may not be easily swayed in the award.
Personally as described I believe that it was a foul and that a penalty kick could have been awarded.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Chester
a collision if both players are chasing a loose ball is a bit different then if the attacker is dribbling and executing an attacking maneuver as it seems here. The timing of the contact with the ball STILL in play is problematic, because if the contact is illegal (not a fair charge) then it is a FOUL as described within the LOTG. Or in this case the rules of the high school soccer federation. I too have seen referees, believing the ball is headed out of play, fail to award a foul thinking the free kick or PK is not truly won . While I can see no reason to think DOGSO given this position, it DOES not alter the facts! WAS the contact fair or foul? WAS the ball in play? It does seem at times that a player with a chance to score, if they get that shot away or if that ball is headed out of play, that FAR too often the defender seems to get free swipe at the attacker. Without seeing the incident I can not truly give you a definitive answer just speculation. It seems here the referee felt the contact was superficial, you use the word theatrical as if the selling of a lost cause, and there was no play possible as the ball was headed into touch. His match, His decision His reputation I concur with my colleague Ref Manjone youth girls soccer does not bear professional world cup scrutiny SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


NFHS Rule 12-4-1 states that a player shall be penalized for charging an opponent in a dangerous or reckless manner, or using excessive force. As the referee, you have to determine if the charging did occur and which of these factors were involved.

In your incident, you indicate that the players collided. From that I assume that both players were going for the ball. None of the factors of charging were involved so charging and a penalty kick would not be the call.

However, if the defender was going at the attacker rather than the ball, this would be considered a dangerous manner, and charging should be called and a penalty kick awarded.

I do caution you not to use calls that you see in professional level play for high school games. Please remember that the safety of participants is a primary concern in high school play. Also, the skill and fitness level of high school players is much less and injuries more frequently occur. Are you aware, that next to football girls high school soccer has more injuries than any other high school sport?

I hope that you have a great rest of the high school season and get to work the CIAC Tournament in November.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Chester,
You describe this as a collision and so it sounds possible that this was more of a 'coming together' with incidental contact and not necessarily a foul by either player though of course it's almost impossible to judge without actually having seen it.

One point I would like to stress though, is that it makes absolutely no difference whether the player has knocked the ball too far ahead. So long as the ball is in play, the only thing that matters is whether the contact meets the criteria for being a foul.

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