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Suspended soccer refs’ names won’t be revealed

The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association has declined to release the names of three officials who were suspended after making an officiating error in last Thursday’s Incline-Spring Creek quarterfinal match at the Northern 3A regional tournament at South Valleys Regional Sports Complex in Reno.

“I don’t think the crew wants people to know,” said Donnie Nelson, NIAA assistant director. “There’s been a lot of heat on them, and they feel awful. It looks like the other officials want to hide them. We’re not going to release their names.”

In an earlier phone interview, Nelson said the officials misinterpreted NIAA shootout rules in the Nov. 1 match, which went to a shootout after both teams failed to score in regulation and overtime.



After various tournament and NIAA officials met to discuss the error, the decision was made late that same night for the teams to replay the match last Friday at Churchill County High School in Fallon.

Incline won Friday’s match, 3-1, and eventually qualified for the state tournament as a No. 3 seed. Incline faces Truckee on Friday in the 3A state tournament semifinals at 4 p.m. at Mackay Stadium in Reno.



“There was a misapplication of the rule, and based on past precedents in soccer, there was no way to determine a real winner,” Nelson said. “All three officials have been suspended for the rest of the season.”

The misapplication came in the second shootout. NIAA rules stipulate that each team picks five players to compete in the first shootout. If it remains tied after the first shootout, which is what happened Thursday, the match moves to a sudden-death shootout format.

In that format, teams must pick five different players than those who shot in the first shootout. However, all five from each team aren’t guaranteed to shoot because of the sudden-death format.

For example, if a player for Team A makes a goal in the sixth set of kicks, and a player for Team B misses, Team A would win.

But the officiating crew told the Incline and Spring Creek coaches to pick five players, not five different players from the first shootout, to take part in the second shootout, according to Nelson.

Both coaches were under the impression the second shootout would be played like the first shootout in that all five players would get a chance to shoot instead of it being a sudden-death format.

“Both coaches asked the officials if that was the case, and the officials said ‘yes,'” Nelson said.

On the first shot in the second shootout, Incline missed the goal. Spring Creek, though, made its shot.

Had the correct rules been applied, the match would have been over after the sixth round of kicks, with Spring Creek advancing to the regional semifinals.

However, the match continued as if it were like the first shootout. After a few more shots, Nelson said officials stopped the game after they realized their mistake.

“At the end of the game, based on the rule that the game would have been over after the sixth round of kicks, we declared Spring Creek the winner,” Nelson said.

The initial decision to declare Spring Creek the winner prompted Incline coach John Paganelli to file an official complaint with the NIAA, asking the match be replayed because of the officials’ error. Paganelli, though, never filed his complaint because the NIAA called him that evening, informing him the match would be replayed the next day.

Nelson said several NIAA officials met and came to a mutual decision to have the match replayed.

“To try to bring both teams together to repeat the shootout didn’t make sense,” Nelson said. “So we decided it was fair to replay the whole match.”


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