Monday, May 4, 2009

More (Girls) National Championship Series

This past weekend, I attended my 2nd weekend of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series here in my state. This weekend, it was the girl's chance in their quarter final match ups.
I was assigned to be the senior AR on 2 U-18 games. In our state, the quarter final games are played at a central location. It happens to be a local college campus. The U-17 and U-18 games are played on the school's turf fields, while the younger girls play on the campus grass fields. That became an important distinction this weekend. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it felt like an honor to be selected for the U-18 games.
The other AR was one of the guys that assisted me in my, well, difficult game last weekend. The two officials selected to rotate between the middle and the 4th spot were both female referees. I have worked with one previously, but was unfamiliar with the other.
When you get to a level where you are being assigned to college stadiums with turf fields, you might think you don't have to do the basics like thoroughly check the field. On the contrary, these responsibilities never go away. We found several issues with the facilities that we had to resolve before the game. Placement of corner flags is always sketchy. Make sure they are right. In our case, the nets were not clipped on the goalposts in every spot, so we had to take care of that. Also, check for items (practice goals) that might be located a little too close to the touch line for safety. Stadiums tend to have lots of barrier fences. Always get more than 1 game ball. At least 3 is best to avoid awkward delays in the game.
Weather conditions were not ideal for the players and officials alike. It was a cool, rainy day. The first game of the day was between two very good teams. You would expect that given that we are now in the quarter final round, but that really hasn't been the case with my state's tournament. In fact, quite a few of the games at the boy's quarter finals were a bit lopsided.
The official in the middle called a quality game and everything went off without much in the way of issues. The rain wasn't a real big problem, just annoying. Turf fields have their downsides, but all-weather play is not one of them!
We had a two hour break between games. The stadium is about a 1/2 mile from the grass fields, so we just sat in our cars to occupy our time. During the break, the rain really picked up. We found out later that the grass field games had been canceled for the day. The rain was unrelenting.
We headed back to the stadium about 45 minutes before the start of our 2nd game. I was looking forward to seeing the official for this game work as I had heard she was really good. In conversation, I discovered she was really young. In fact, she was the same age as most of the players, although she looked a few years older to me. It turns out, she is a really good official! I was completely impressed by her ability. The game was not all that challenging, but she clearly knows what she is doing. She's going to move up quickly. I'd really like to see her in a more challenging game.
We had an interesting observation with our 2nd game. Given the rain, we had to hunt for our teams a bit. One was hiding in the covered entry area of the stadium. We checked them in right there. The other team was found in the parking garage adjacent to the stadium. 35 minutes before the game, they did not yet have their player passes! The manager was "on his way" with the passes. He arrived about 10 minutes before a National Championship Series game. I don't get that. The rules of the competition are clear. No pass=no play. Was this some sort of gamesmanship? If so, I can't figure it out. I suspect it was just very poor planning.
As I mentioned previously, this game turned out to be quite one-sided. The team with the late arriving passes was very good. They moved the ball exceptionally well. The other team was out played from the start. In fact, I would estimate 85% of the game was played in their end of the field. The only thing that kept that game close was their goalkeeper making some great saves!
From an officiating viewpoint, the conditions were tough. The rain was incessant. We were soaked the moment we took off our warm-ups. The rain didn't stop for an instant the entire game. Fortunately, the temperature was just high enough that we were not terribly cold. Between the weather and the one-sided aspect of the game, one had to really concentrate on the game and keep the mind from wandering. Most of the game was played in front of me in the 1st half. The 2nd half had me leave my position at halfway maybe 5 times!
That's the end of the quarter finals. I have to wait and see if I'll be assigned at the semi's and finals. I believe I'll get something for semi's as I've made it known I still want my assessment done. We'll see.

1 comment:

Soccerdawg said...

Hi there, I'm a new ref, too.
Here's my blog, which I just started.
Good luck, and I hope we share similar experiences (or maybe not -- not sure.)