NIAA suspends officials who erred in soccer match | SierraSun.com
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NIAA suspends officials who erred in soccer match

INCLINE VILLAGE ” The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association on Friday declined to release the names of three officials who were suspended after they made an officiating error in Thursday’s Incline vs. Spring Creek quarterfinal match at the Northern 3A regional zone girls soccer tournament.

“I don’t think the crew wants people to know,” said Donnie Nelson, assistant director of the NIAA, in a Friday afternoon phone interview. “There’s been a lot of heat on them and they feel awful. It looks like the other officials want to hide them. We’re not going to release their names.”

In an earlier phone interview Friday, Nelson said the officials misinterpreted NIAA shootout rules in the Thursday match, which went to a shootout after both teams failed to score in regulation and overtime.



After various tournament and NIAA officials met to discuss the error, the decision was made late Thursday night for the teams to replay the match at 1 p.m. Friday at Churchill High School in Fallon. Incline won Friday’s match, 3-1.

“There was a misapplication of the rule, and based on past precedents in soccer, there was no way to determine a real winner,” Nelson said. “All three officials have been suspended for the rest of the season.”



In a Friday phone interview, Spring Creek girls soccer coach Dena Anderson said she had no luck when trying to attain the referees’ names.

“What’s funny is that when you coach soccer, they have game cards, and you’re supposed to have the refs sign the game cards,” Anderson said. “But they wouldn’t sign them. I tried to get their names, and they just shushed me.”

What happened

The misapplication came in the second shootout, Nelson said. NIAA rules stipulate that each team picks five players to compete in the first shootout. If it remains tied after the first shootout (which is what happened Thursday), the match moves to a sudden death shootout format.

In that format, teams must pick five different players than those who shot in the first shootout. However, all five from each team aren’t guaranteed to shoot because of the sudden death format.

For example, if a player for Team A makes a goal in the sixth set of kicks, and a player for Team B misses, Team A would win right there.

But officials Thursday told the Incline and Spring Creek coaches to pick five players, not five different players from the first shootout, to take part in the second shootout, Nelson said.

Both coaches were under the impression the second shootout would be played like the first shootout, in that all five players would get a chance to shoot instead of it being a sudden death format, Nelson said.

“Both coaches asked the officials if that was the case, and the officials said ‘yes,'” he said.

On the first shot in the second shootout, Incline missed the goal. Spring Creek made it, and under normal rules, the match would have been over right there after the sixth round of kicks, with Spring Creek as the winner, Nelson said.

However, the match continued as if it were like the first shootout. After a few more shots, Nelson said officials stopped the game after they realized their mistake.

“At the end of the game, based on the rule that the game would have been over after the sixth round of kicks, we declared Spring Creek the winner,” Nelson said.

Anderson said that of all the events that transpired, being deemed the winner for a few hours was the worst.

“They came to us and told us they declared Spring Creek to be the winner,” Anderson said. “That’s the saddest part. The NIAA should have said they were going to review what happened. But to declare us the winner, then a few hours later call us and tell us we have to play again? That’s just appalling.”

The initial decision to declare Spring Creek the winner prompted Incline coach John Paganelli to file an official complaint with the NIAA, asking the match be replayed because of the officials’ error.

“The second round was never finished – it was at 1-1, and then the hard copy of the rules was given to the ref,” said Incline coach John Paganelli. “It was realized they did the second round wrong, so they suspended the game.

“We took that as we lost, that they were going to give the game to Spring Creek. The girls were a mess.”

The aftermath

Paganelli never filed his complaint, however, because the NIAA called him Thursday evening, informing him the match would be replayed.

“I have to give them credit, the NIAA,” Paganelli said. “They met and they made a decision quickly and it was fair.”

After it was deemed officials made a mistake, Nelson said he, NIAA executive director Eddie Bonine, NIAA assistant director Jay Beesmyer, Northern 4A Tournament Director Darvel Bell and the assignor of officials for the Northern Nevada Officials Association met to discuss ways to fix the problem.

Nelson said it came as a mutual decision to have the match replayed.

“To try to bring both teams together to repeat the shootout didn’t make sense,” Nelson said. “So we decided it was fair to replay the whole match.”

In the rematch Friday, Incline defeated Spring Creek, 3-1.

Anderson said the decision was unfortunate.

“What they’re calling it, which I get a kick out of, is they misinterpreted the rules,” Anderson said. “You don’t even need to know the game to understand the rules. I don’t get that.”

The decision created a domino effect on the rest of the tournament. Originally, both semifinals were to be played Friday, with the title and third place matches being contested on Saturday.

However, since the second Incline/Spring Creek match was to be played Friday, it meant one semifinal – North Tahoe vs. the Incline/Spring Creek winner – would have to be played on Saturday. The other semifinal – Truckee vs. Dayton, took place as scheduled on Friday.

“We feel bad for the North Tahoe team because they have to adjust to this too,” Nelson said.

In a Friday phone interview, North Tahoe coach Hans Palidini said the extra day off would benefit his team on the field. Off the field, the situation was a nightmare, he said.

“I was there, I saw the whole thing – I though it was kind of a debacle,” Palidini said. “In reality Spring Creek should have won – I don’t know why Incline protested. It was hard for us because I got the call at 9:30 at night (Thursday), and I was up until 11 p.m. calling my players, telling them we weren’t playing Friday. The off-field stuff was really a nightmare.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of something like this being protested and being overturned. The coach from Incline must have a lot of pull.”

Anderson agreed, saying the NIAA’s decision tainted the entire zone tournament.

“This is just unheard of. I have nothing against Incline; those girls played their heart out. And I couldn’t be more proud of my Spartans. We played so well,” Anderson said. “But this whole thing has kind of tainted the entire tournament. Look at Incline. While North Tahoe gets a day off, they played 120 minutes yesterday and another 80 minutes today. Then they have to play another 80 minutes on Saturday. It’s just outrageous. I have no respect for the NIAA.”

The decision also meant the championship and third place games will be contested on Tuesday, instead of Saturday. On Friday, Nelson said the third-place match will take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday at DaMonte Ranch High School in Reno. The title match will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the same venue.


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