The THS boys varsity soccer teams played against McMinnville on Tuesday. Players and fans held high hopes for this tough matchup. Right off the bat there were problems however. McMinnville celebrated an early goal, but it seemed as though Tigard would pull through soon with a goal of their own.
The teams were fairly evenly matched, but not even half way through the game the red cards started coming out. McMinnville played a long ball forward, perfectly to one of their forwards, cutting through the defense. Goal keeper Joni Mercado was off his line in a flash, charging the ball. It was a little too soon however. The forward pulled back his leg for the shot, just as Mercado was less than four feet from him. Instinctively, Mercado raised his arms to protect his body. The ball was slammed straight into his chest, but was caught between his arms. Sounds like a perfect save right? Wrong. Unknowingly, Mercado have just barely stepped outside of his 18-yard box. A handball is normally grounds for a free-kick, but blocking a shot outside the 18-yard box is technically a red. However, this is normally only given if a player sticks his hand out intentionally to stop a ball. In this case, Mercado’s arms were tucked into his body to protect himself. It’s not a handball if your arms are pressed to your body. The referee blew the whistle, and raised the red card, forcing Mercado to leave the field and suspending him from Monday’s game against Tualatin, as well as from practicing with the team until then.
Outraged, varsity coach Tracy Hasson was instantly protesting the referee’s call. The referee turned and gave Hasson a red card as well, mandating that he leave the field and watch from the stands, leaving the assistant coaches to manage the last 3/4 of the game. Just like Mercado, coach Hasson will not be able to coach until after Monday, whether in practice or at games.
From there, the game just went downhill. With reserve goal keeper Carlos Torres recovering from hand surgery, the assistant coaches had to pull a field player off the field to play goal keeper. Clinton Raye, who has had goal keeper experience in the past, put on a pair of gloves and stepped into the goal. Without their head coach, and either of their usual goal keepers, McMinnville hammered Tigard relentlessly, resulting in a 0-4 loss for the Tigers.
“We will definitely attempt to get this repealed. The other coach also agreed that this was ridiculous, and is going to write a statement on our behalf,” said Hasson. If they are able to get the red cards repealed, Mercado and Hasson will be able to practice and participate in Monday’s rivalry game.