Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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Close call. Free kick. Marquette is 1A soccer champ.

The soccer match for the Class 1A Illinois High School Association title was about as close as a soccer match can be, but Marquette High School in Alton ultimately took the championship.

The score was tied at the end of regulation and at the end of the first 10-minute overtime half. With just over a minute remaining in the second overtime, just as the match appeared to be going to penalty kicks, Monmouth-Roseville’s goalie, Edgar Mora Sanchez, came out of the net to field a ball.

Although team members maintained that Mora Sanchez was back inside the box when he handled the ball, the linesman saw the play differently. Mora Sanchez had apparently fielded the ball while he was still outside the box, and that meant Marquette would get a free kick from right there, at about the 11-yard line on the football field. That’s only about 18 yards from the goal.

Setting up for the free kick (NFHS Network, screen shot)

So with only a minute and nine seconds left in the second overtime half, Marquette’s Kwame Ngwa lined up to aim his free kick right at the goal. Four Monmouth-Roseville players locked arms the required 10 yards away from Ngwa, but the ball sailed by them and into the net.

Action leading up to the critical call was as follows:

With about 2 minutes remaining in the second overtime half, Monmouth-Roseville’s Chum Ling fired off a shot on goal. It was covered by Nick Hemann, Marquette’s keeper. Hemann punted the ball all the way downfield, headed for the opposing net, but Mora Sanchez stepped forward to field it—very close to the outline for the box.

On the replay, he appeared to first touch the ball only after he had taken a step backwards into the box (he did step outside the box just before fielding the ball). However, if this were an NFL replay, I would probably say there wasn’t enough visual evidence to overrule the call made on the field. High school soccer doesn’t have a replay review, but if it did, my judgment is that the call would have held up.

Before setting up the free kick, the referee held a brief conference with the linesman. I assume they talked about whether Mora Sanchez was still outside the box when he touched the ball with his hands.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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