Montgomery County high school soccer coaches are upset over one of Maryland's best-kept secrets, a new rule in which ties will be broken in sudden death with teams playing 10 men to a side -- without a goalkeeper.
Last spring the new rule was passed unamimously by the State Tournament Committee, composed of eight soccer coaches, each representing one of the eight athletic districts in the state. The new tie-breaking method is not believed to be used anywhere else in the nation on the scholastic level.
If a game ends 80 minutes of regulation in a tie, two 10-minute sudden death overtime periods will be played without goalies.
If the 20 minutes expire without the tie being broken, a North American Soccer League-style, best-of-five shootout will be employed, with players attempting to score one on one against the keeper in five seconds from 35 yards out.
Maryland has used several methods to break ties in tournament play over the past years. For the past two seasons, regular season contests have been determined by a 10-minute, sudden death period, followed by best-of-five penalty kicks.
Bob Pine, the veteran Peary coach, said the new rule was not publicized last spring because, "we didn't know what to do; we were embarrassed." But, he added, the Montgomery coaches are unanimously against the no-goalkeeper overtime idea.
"I don't know what you call it, but you can't call in soccer," Pine said. "The people I've told are outraged. We're the subject of ridicule of knowledgable soccer people. We're humiliated in a way. We pride ourselves in having top-notch soccer here in the county."
The change from penalty kicks as a tie-breaking procedure was instigated by the Prince George's County coaches, who were "totally opposed to penalty kicks to break ties," said High Point Coach Terry Parfitt, Prince George's representative on the state Soccer Tournament Committee.
Two of last year's four Maryland state championship games were decided by overtime penalty kicks, with a third ending in sudden-death overtime.
After thrashing around different methods to break ties the committee voted, 8-0, to use the new method. Montgomery County representative Sam DeBone of Whitmans cast an affirmative vote. But when DeBone, who has since resigned his position on the committee after 10 years, returned to his delegation, he received anything but a favorable response.
"I voted for it, but it wasn't until I brought it back to my people that I realized I was against what my people wanted," DeBone said. "Most of the people in Montgomery County are upset, but people around the state are for it as is evidenced by the vote.
"I'm not that opposed to the (new) system. I don't see this equalizing good teams and bad teams. The whole idea was to devise a way to won or lose with most of the team on the field rather than put all the pressure on one kid (in penalty kicks)."
DeBone said that after he realized the sentiment among his delegation, he asked the other district reps to poll their delegations and vote again. The count of this informal poll was 6-2 in favor of the procedure. Dave Anderson of Lackey of Southern Maryland voted no for District 4.