After Marquette and Oregon State both picked up 2-0 wins on Friday night, Sunday's match between the two of them was for the championship of UW-Milwaukee's Panther Invitational. Yes, Marquette never went to Engelmann Field to play, but the title was still in their reach.
Early on, Marquette played the ball into the 18 yard box, and striker C. Nortey was there to try to make a play on the ball. Unfortunately for Nortey, Oregon State keeper Nolan Wirth was there, too. Fortunately for Marquette (but still unfortunately for Nortey), Nortey's head was between Wirth and the ball, so when the OSU keeper charged and leapt at the ball to try to secure it, he ended up elbowing the Marquette man right in the head. Nortey went down in a heap, the referee blew the whistle, and with one swing of David Selvaggi's leg from the penalty spot, Marquette had a 1-0 lead.
Selvaggi's penalty kick was the only goal that Marquette would need to come away with the win, although the shots and saves in the match tell a different story. Oregon State finished with a 10-9 shots advantage, although shots on goal were even between the two teams. Both goalkeepers made three saves in the match, but the most important save of the game is officially credited as a Team Save on Marquette's side of the ledger. With less than three minutes to play, Charlie Lyon came off his line to play the ball in the 18 yard box, but Oregon State managed to keep it away from his control. Khiry Shelton sent a shot skimming the grass and ticketed for the back of the net, but John Pothast was close enough to time his kick just right to properly connect and send the ball flying away from danger.
The last item we need to touch on in this game is the refereeing. While I generally don't have a lot to say about soccer refereeing because there's a lot going on for three officials to pay attention to with 20 guys running up and down the field for 90 minutes, this game is different. First, it seemed that towards the end of the game, the head referee was content to let things go a little bit just to get the game over with.
And then Oregon State's Jaime Velasco missed a shot high with 42 seconds remaining.
It was the seventh time in the match that a shot had missed either high or wide, meaning the ball went over the end line and a goal kick was coming. Lyon retrieved the ball from the foliage behind the net, walked over to the 6 yard box, placed the ball down, and set up for his goal kick, as he and Wirth had done every single time previously. By this point, there was about eight seconds left in the match, and that's when the referee decided that the clock needed to be stopped. He walked over to the stands and called up to the press box to have 12 seconds put on the clock. When a fan actually shouted "ARE YOU SERIOUS?" at him, he actually responded with a "Yes." Every single time there was to be a goal kick in this game, the referee allowed Wirth or Lyon to set up and take their kick. But now, as time was about to expire to give Marquette a 1-0 win, he decided to alter the course of the game. This morning, as I was getting ready to write this, I downloaded the 2014 & 2015 NCAA soccer rule book. There is nothing - not in the duties of the referee, not in the explanation of the length of the game, not in the legal definition of how and when a goal kick shall be taken - that gives the referee the ability to stop the clock for a goal kick, much less add time back on the clock so that said kick can be performed.
Here's the part that actually bothers me with the whole thing: IT DIDN'T MATTER. Referee blows his whistle, Lyon kicks the ball, the clock starts, and by the time anyone gets a chance to play the ball, it's on the other end of the field and public address announcer Dan Pfeifer has already started counting down the last 10 seconds of the match. By the time the ball is settled, there's five seconds left. There's no chance that Oregon State could have popped the ball past Lyon from midfield, but that was the opportunity that the referee elected to provide them for no reason what so ever. If you don't believe that this actually happened, the stream of the game is still available in the GoMarquette.com archive, so go check it out yourself.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will be back in action on Saturday night when they host Drake. The Bulldogs are 1-1-1 so far this season, and they'll play Illinois-Chicago tonight before making their way to Milwaukee on Saturday.