MSHSAA has ruled that the Nixa Eagles are the winner of their semifinal game against Parkview on the basis on their 1-0 lead after one half of play. There have been some questions regarding whether the game was in fact finished or if it was called due to lightning prior to the half. After two days of discussions and appeals, the ruling appears to be that it was in fact a full half and therefor a complete game. Here is what the Soccer Manual for 2009-2010 notes:
C. DURATION OF GAME/OVERTIME PROCEDURES: All games will be 80 minutes in length divided into two equal halves of 40 minutes each.
5. In the event a game must be suspended because of conditions which make it impossible to continue play, the head referee shall declare it an official game if one complete half or more of the game has been played and a winner can be determined (score is not tied).
I have had conversations with all four coaches involved in the semifinals in the past two days regarding the possible outcomes. What I have come away with from those conversations are several opinions:
* A renewed respect for the coaches involved and their desire to allow the girls to play the game in a safe and competitive way
* While it took longer to make a decision then I would have liked, it points to the efforts that Mark Fisher made to give the Parkview girls the opportunity to play a second half of soccer. Kudos Mr Fisher!
* MSHSAA needs to provide an alternate model for playoff soccer.
While the ruling is clear, what it doesn’t take into account is the importance of playoff soccer. The Laws of the Game in fact don’t recognize anything but a complete game, noting that an Abandoned Match is replayed unless the competition rules provide otherwise. MSHSAA has modified the rules to meet a need they have identified but I would call on the Rules Committee to consider a rider for playoff soccer. Can we avoid this scenario with some patience and a modification of the rules to allow a full game be played. If a similar scenario plays out in June during the Final Four, would this be considered satisfactory? I don’t believe so. MSHSAA defines the Purpose of District and State competitions thusly:
There are two primary purposes that justify and cause district and state events to be desirable. Those purposes: to provide opportunities to demonstrate before the public the best knowledge, skills, and emotional patterns taught through a particular sport; to evaluate and compare the best of this teaching of knowledge, skills and emotional patterns among schools. Unless these purposes are primary, district and state athletic contests cannot be completely justified.
The decision is made and it’s time to move forward. That’s one of the unfortunate lessons from this experience. Should we come up with an alternative approach?
In my conversations with Head Coach Evan Palmer of the Nixa Eagles, he stressed that their approach has been in anticipation of playing the second half, including practice yesterday focused on Parkview’s strengths. He also noted as well the agreement he was part of to continue to the game. It is that agreement, among the Coaches and Site Administrator, to continue the game that MSHSAA has ruled against. The Eagles now need to focus on the winner of the game between Glendale and Kickapoo tonight.
For Head Coach Clint Nurnberg, an understanding of the rules and the decision that has been made is something he is still coming to grips with. He is facing it, along with his players, in a 2:00 pm meeting called to give him an opportunity to share with them the results and the reason for the delay in this posting.
He was philosphical, without spite, but he also shared the unfortunate aspects of the decision – the game was abandoned to ensure the safety of the players. With an agreement among the coaches it would be better to continue the game 24 hours later rather than attempting to wait out a significant storm, it was a decision based on logic. Can we prevent this scenario in the future and allow the game to be decided on the pitch over 80 minutes?
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