College soccer

Seeking solutions to potential missed goals and blown calls

kcoons@newsobserver.comSeptember 18, 2013 

Midway through the second half of Sunday’s top-10 matchup between North Carolina and Notre Dame, UNC midfielder Crystal Dunn appeared to tie the score at 1 when her shot ricocheted off the underside of the crossbar and into the roof of the net. It bounced straight down inside the goal line before Irish goalkeeper Kaela Little alertly grabbed it and kept play going.

The ESPN3 audience, the TV announcers in the booth, and most of the 3,742 fans at Fetzer Field saw the goal. But one person who did not see it – referee Alex Sorondo – was the one whose decision counts. No goal. The Tar Heels would end up with their first loss of the season 1-0.

Veteran UNC coach Anson Dorrance has an idea on how to prevent future such scenarios: Follow the lead of football, basketball and baseball, and use TV replays.

“Have a referee in the TV truck,” he said. “I worked in TV for three years with the old Women’s (United) Soccer Association, and all of us (announcers) had greater access to the correct call than the referee did.

“An experienced referee in the TV truck would have access in some venues to 14 cameras. All the referees at the elite levels are wearing mics. … It’s an easy, simple and inexpensive solution.”

This isn’t sour grapes from a losing coach. We’ve seen the same blown calls at the highest levels of the game. Remember England’s no-goal against Germany in the 2010 World Cup? FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, is experimenting with a referee on the goal line and has discussed implanting a microchip in the ball. Dorrance maintains all that isn’t necessary.

“I don’t think that’s the solution, a referee on the end line or goal line technology,” he said. “It would benefit all of us and the game itself if we took advantage of the technology we have available. I worked in television; it’s not complicated.”

And here’s the key: College soccer doesn’t have to wait for FIFA’s glacially slow advance on technology to catch up with the game. The NCAA can, and does, enact its own rules for the sport.

“Just because some Swiss bonehead doesn’t like it for some inane reason doesn’t mean we can’t consider what we have,” Dorrance said.

750 and counting: Dorrance picked up his 750th career victory as the UNC women’s coach when the Tar Heels beat No. 23 Virginia Tech 2-1 last Friday. Including the 12 years that Dorrance simultaneously coached the UNC men’s team (1977-88) and compiled a 172-65-21 mark, he now has 922 career wins.

“Obviously it means I’ve been coaching a long time and had a lot of outstanding players to be in a position to compete so favorably,” Dorrance said of the milestone. “I certainly feel good about that. Honestly I was not aware of it until (UNC sports information associate director) Dave Lohse shared it with me. Those numbers sort of creep up on you.”

Dorrance (750-50-29) is the winningest coach in women’s college soccer and at his current clip could reach 1,000 combined victories by 2018. The victory leader among men’s college soccer coaches is Jay Martin of Ohio Wesleyan, still going with 625.

“It’s kind of kind of cool to look back, to enjoy the perspective,” Dorrance said. “None of us has lost our passion for what we’re doing, and I feel very good about that.”

Buzzer beater: N.C. State forward Jackie Stengel is making a habit of late-game heroics. For the second time this season, the freshman from Melbourne, Fla., scored a last-minute goal to give the Wolfpack a victory.

On Sunday, Stengel scored with 53 seconds remaining in regulation to send the visiting Wolfpack over Pittsburgh, 1-0. Back on Aug. 25, her goal with 44 seconds left in regulation lifted N.C. State over visiting Longwood 3-2.

Stengel leads the Wolfpack (6-2, 1-1 ACC) with six goals in eight games and is tied for second in the ACC. She has emerged as a leading contender for freshman of the year honors in the conference.

The victory over Pitt was N.C. State’s first in ACC play since beating Clemson 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 20, 2011.

Looking ahead: All three ACC women’s teams in the Triangle play twice on the road this week, although No. 5 UNC got things started earlier at No. 3 Florida State on Wednesday night. The Tar Heels travel to Miami on Sunday. Duke visits No. 6 Wake Forest on Thursday and Syracuse on Sunday, while N.C. State travels to Miami and Florida State.

In men’s action, Duke hosts Syracuse while top-ranked UNC goes to Virginia Tech and N.C. State visits Virginia, all at 7 p.m. Friday.

Coons: 919-829-4635

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