Monica Miles' successful overtime penalty stroke that gave Foxcroft Academy its 1-0 win over Dexter in their Eastern Maine Class C championship game Tuesday shouldn't have been awarded, according to Dexter High School Principal Steve Bell, who filed an official protest with the Maine Principals' Association.
Based on the rule book and video replays, it appears as though he might be right.
However, Shannon Whiting, the Maine Field Hockey Umpires Association Rules Interpreter who was in attendance at the game, has ruled in favor of referees Pam Hennessey and Rod Hall and the result will stand.
Telephone calls to Whiting were not returned Thursday evening.
Whiting sent her written findings to Mike Burnham of the Maine Principals' Association on Wednesday.
The penalty stroke was awarded because Dexter had too many players on the field and Foxcroft was also in the process of receiving a penalty corner, according to Whiting's analysis.
However, Bell insisted that after watching detailed videotape, a penalty corner was "never indicated to anyone" via a hand signal or whistle by either referee and play continued until it was discovered that Dexter had too many players on the field.
Television footage revealed that when the whistle finally blew, the ball was nowhere near the Dexter circle. A Dexter player was dribbling toward midfield when play was stopped. She had dribbled it at least 10 yards.
When an infraction is detected, the whistle is blown as soon as the offending team touches the ball.
But Whiting wrote, "The lead umpire (Hennessey) had blown the whistle for a foul, which was going to be for a penalty corner when the trail umpire (Hall) immediately followed with a whistle of his own to indicate that there were too many players on the field. Entry of an illegal substitute is a deliberate and unsportsmanlike act.
"The umpires met and ruled that since the call on the field was a penalty corner, they would penalize the illegal substitute on the field with a penalty stroke and remove the player from the field. Due to the fact this situation was a deliberate, unsportsmanlike act, the call on the field was correct and justified."
Teams switch from 11-versus-11 to 7-versus-7 in overtime and, during a wholesale change of personnel by Dexter coach Margaret Veazie, one of the Dexter players on the field forgot to leave the field.
According to the rule book, if there was just an illegal substitution without a penalty corner being awarded at the same time, Foxcroft should have only received a free hit from the spot where play was stopped.
The rules are from the National Federation of State High School Associations Field Hockey Rules Book (2010-11).
According to Rule 10, Article 1: A penalty corner will be awarded when: A. The defense commits a foul within the circle, which does not prevent the probable scoring of a goal; B. The defense commits a deliberate foul inside the 25-yard line but outside the circle or C. the defense intentionally hits the ball over the end line.According to Rule 8, Article 2, No. 6: If the offending team commits a foul before the awarded penalty is taken on a free hit or 16-yard hit, the penalty may be progressed up to 10 yards, upgraded and/or dealt with as a misconduct.
But Bell pointed out that "there is nothing in the rule book that lists having too many players on the field as a foul. It is only a violation.
"You can only upgrade if there are back-to-back fouls," emphasized Bell.
Bell also said in a letter to Burnham that "because one of our players didn't come off, by mistake, for the referees to turn this into a deliberate act is not even allowed in their own rule book."
The only player-substitution foul in the rule book is Article 2-F.: Entry/re-entry of an ineligible player.But Rule 4-3, Section 4, Article 1 states "An eligible substitute is any player who has not been disqualified and whose name and correct number have been recorded in the scorebook."
So an extra player on the field would not be classified as an ineligble player.Bell also wrote that if it was truly a "deliberate unsportsmanlike act" why didn't the player receive a yellow or a red card?
Whiting wrote, "The umpires did not feel it was appropriate to yellow card the player in this situation due to the consequences for the team as a whole."
Veazie did not appeal the decision on the field after it happened but she wouldn't have been allowed to call a timeout and dispute it anyway.
According to Rule 4.2.3, Situation A: If a team is awarded a penalty stroke, the offending team can't be granted a timeout. Only the team in possession of the ball may be granted a timeout.Bell insisted that he didn't appeal the ruling with the expectation of having the game resumed.
"When has that ever happened at any level? It wasn't going to happen," said Bell. "But this was the only way to get it heard right away. I just want them to correct the rule so this doesn't happen to any other team in the future."He said he has the utmost respect for Whiting, Hennessey and Hall and the job they have done over the years.
He also praised Foxcroft coach Gene Philpot and her team, saying they're a classy program and he hopes Foxcroft Academy "wins the gold ball.
"Life will go on. Our kids have been very good about it. It is a life lesson. Sports mimic life and, sometimes, things happen that are out of our control," said Bell. "This will be a good lesson but a tough lesson."
Foxcroft plays North Yarmouth in the state final Saturday in Orono.