Being the varsity girls’ soccer goalkeeper since freshman year has been a huge honor and an enjoyable experience for me, but being on the field this past season was downright awful. I’m not saying this because of the way my team played, but instead, because of the one thing that held a huge role in each game: the referees.
Ever since my freshman year, the quality of the referees has gone downhill. Certain refs forget to show up to games, while others are older, barely able to walk, and just cannot keep up with the pace of the game, and many let the game go on, neglecting to make calls and affecting player safety.
Last year in the Regional Finals game versus Walter Johnson, the ref closest to my goal ended our season on a “fake foul.” When his whistle blew with 34 seconds left in the game, all Patriots stopped. We had no clue why the whistle was blown, as we saw no evident foul. The “foul” was committed barely inside the 18-yard box. The Wildcats player, Cammie Murtha, who yes, is very good, flopped to the ground, forcing the ref to blow his whistle. At this point in the game it was 4-4. Sadly, Murtha capitalized on the penalty kick, and the Wildcats took the game 5-4, moving on and eventually winning States. This game was taken out of our hands and completely into the control of the refs.
This past season, there have been controversial calls in all of our games; calls that would either be in our favor or not, they just were not smart or safe decisions by the refs.
Being a soccer goalie is definitely not the safest position on the field, as I have had three injuries due to playing this position. None of these injuries happened from bad calls by refs, but being a goalie definitely is not too safe. With players forcefully running into me, even when I have possession of the ball in my hands, it is extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) refs don’t find this an important foul to call. In our regular season game versus Northwest, twice their speedy forward ran into me when I clearly had possession of the ball. First, her knee banged into the top of my head, and the other time, she ran right into me, knocking me to the ground. Both of these times, the refs ignored the fouls.
When a field player on the opposing team runs into the goalie, and the goalie has the ball in her possession, a foul should be called, and the field player is awarded a yellow card. This player did not receive a yellow card. The player did not receive any type of penalty for her actions. Instead, my coach got a yellow card for voicing her opinion to the ref about how strongly she felt about the danger of the plays. Does it make sense for the coach to be carded when defending the safety of her goalie? No, of course, this makes no sense at all, but to the refs, they feel like it does.
Many dangerous plays happened throughout our season. If we had refs who were in shape, keeping up with the game and actually making the correct calls, the games would have been played more smoothly, and some injuries would have been avoided.
While my high school soccer career is over, I still hope for next year, and all of the years following, that the refs be better overall, and take players safety into their hands. I wish that refs will make the correct calls out on the field, with players safety in the front of their head, rather than in the back where during this past season, it must not have mattered to them.
Senior Sports Editor