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PIAA Soccer Updates: Board approves to refer recommendation for eliminating overtime in regular season but brings back ‘soft red’

File photo courtesy Ed Thompson

A few changes are in motion to be coming for the 2024 high school soccer season in Pennsylvania, as the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Board of Directors met and approved two actions which include a referral of elimination of regular season overtime and modification of fouls identified as misconduct to be adopted as ‘soft red’.

One other item approved by PIAA board that relates to WPIAL soccer on Thursday included updates to Cooperative Sponsorships (Co-Op) that affect student-athletes from Monessen School District.  In recent years, Monessen boys’ and girls’ soccer players were part of Co-Op  with California High School.  Essentially, the Board approved the termination of these Co-Op’s, but approved a Co-Op for Monessen’s players to now participate with Charleroi High School’s boys and girls soccer teams.

The full meeting minutes from Thursday’s PIAA Board of Directors meeting can be found here.

Here’s the official transcript of the Soccer Updates:

  • The Board unanimously approved the minutes and recommendations from the Soccer Steering
    Committee from its meeting of January 10, 2024, and took the following actions;

    • The Board unanimously approved to refer a recommendation to eliminate overtime for regular season contests in the sport of soccer to the Strategic Planning Committee; and,
    • The Board unanimously approved to modify the NFHS Soccer Rules Book and adopt the “Soft Red” for fouls identified as misconduct.

What Do These Changes Mean For WPIAL (District 7)/PIAA Soccer in 2024?

Eliminating OT in Regular Season 

The good news for coaches, players and probably especially music to the ears for parents and school administrators is that during the regular season, high school soccer players should be getting home at a little bit more reasonable hour in the coming years if this referral for recommendation is officially enacted after it is decided by the Strategic Planning Committee (it’s quite a process for approval!).

That’s right, overtime has been fast tracked to being eliminated from regular season.

The set-up high school soccer has been playing by for many years requires every regular season match ending in a tie to try to determine a winner with two 10-minute overtime periods using the Golden Goal rule.  This projected rule change picked up a lot of momentum in recent years fueled by hopes of finishing games earlier on school nights.

If PIAA’s Strategic Planning Committee acts on this referral from the Board, high school soccer matches ending regulation in a tie, will result in a draw, following the NCAA, which changed its rule ahead of the 2022 Fall season.

The other benefit of eliminating extra time from the regular season, should help with the overall well-being and wear-and-tear for the student-athletes, who sometimes are cramming in three matches on a given week during the congested Fall season.

Even if OT is eliminated from the regular season, when the postseason rolls around, overtime rules will remain in the PIAA.

‘Soft Red’ is back, but how will it be enforced? 

The Board also has brought back the ‘Soft Red’ card, as interpreted through the Board Meeting Minutes, states specifically that will be adopted for fouls identified as misconduct.  

The bigger question now is, what does this mean in terms of enforcement?

For many years, until 2012-13, if a player or a coach was issued a ‘soft red’ — that meant that their team could still play with 11 men on the field. Additionally, as long as the official approved, that player would not miss the next match.

The rule was changed over a decade ago by National Federation High School Associations (NFSH), to be aligned with FIFA, NCAA and most every other soccer rules enforced throughout the world.  The consensus behind eliminating ‘soft red’ was to align with the rest of the soccer world with strict red card enforcement, seeing aggressive play and behaviors to be cut down and have more severe consequences both for the player, and the team.

But now, for some reason, the PIAA Soccer Steering Committee and the PIAA Board is now back to providing officials with ‘Soft Red’ option — giving those issued with this ruling the opportunity to return to play in the next match and/or give the team an opportunity to still play with 11.

Pittsburgh Soccer Now will certainly follow up on this to get further clarification prior to the start of the 2024 high school soccer season in Pennsylvania.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Glory on the Grass

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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