Assistant Sports Editor
It is a shame that five, maybe 10, years from now, when you ask someone about the 2013 John James tournament, the response will be "oh, the one with the penalty?"
The truth of the matter is, if you focus on only that one sequence then you are missing out on the larger picture of what transpired.
Let me propose a different scenario for how the game ends: say that Burr and Burton Academy’s Reid Conde is able to get a shot off instead of drawing a penalty with five seconds left in the game. Say that said shot goes into the net and BBA still beats Mount Anthony Union High School 3-2 with a last-gasp winner.
What are the storylines from that game?
The same as they are with a penalty being awarded.
Conde put on a superhuman effort in the second half to get BBA the win. Both goalies, MAU’s Pat Cody and BBA’s Adam Maitland, had to come up with some huge saves to keep the score what it was. MAU’s Brad Anair still plays a skillful game in the center of the field, BBA’s Colin McLeish and MAU’s Jack Peterson still put in shifts on the defensive side of the ball. The previous four goals all happen the same exact way, and BBA scores a last-second match winner. Should I keep going?
So why get caught up on the one call?
It was one of those things that no one will agree on. MAU fans must feel hard done, while BBA fans look around and say "What? He got pushed."
If you ask both coaches, they want to forget it.
MAU’s Mike Molloy said in the aftermath of the game that his team had to put this one behind him. While he admitted it would hurt, he said "the question is how we rebound from this."
On the other side, BBA coach Peter Mull said that his team couldn’t look to this for inspiration all year. "I’ve been on teams that have done that before, and they burn out by the end of the year."
Remember the game for the 79:55 seconds of goalmouth-to-goalmouth action. Not the final five seconds when the penalty was awarded. It is unfair to those involved in the contest, and it sells the game itself far short.
Now, let me make a suggestion on how we can stop these situations from happening.
Maybe it is time to introduce a third referee for all games.
Even when I was writing in Massachusetts and on Long Island, it was still two referees in a soccer game until the very end of the postseason, when a third referee would be added.
Well, if there are three refs for a postseason match, why aren’t there three refs during the regular season? Do games only count when it comes to postseason play? Do we only want to get things right when a state title is on the line?
Being a referee is a hard job. Dealing with everything that goes on in a game is a challenge. So why are we asking two officials to call offsides while also asking them to police and marshall along a game?
Have you ever watched them call offsides? I’ve seen kids flagged for being offside when they are a foot behind the final defender. I’ve also seen kids not flagged when they were clearly well beyond the defensive line.
Get a third official. Put two on the sidelines with flags to waive when kids go offsides, and let one official focus on just the action. It would have allowed a referee to be on top of the play when Conde went to ground, and there would be a lot less commotion about the call.
It would also allow the players to get better. It is how the game is officiated at higher levels. It would make the game flow smoother, and cut down on mistakes that are made when referees are asked to do to much.
Now that is a bigger picture we can all agree on.
Geoff Smith is the Assistant Sports Editor for the Bennington Banner. He can be reached by phone at 802-447-7567 ext. 120, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @banner_sports.