Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Coaches are champions regardless of outcome

There is no instant replay in high school soccer. And there shouldn’t be. But if there was, there may be a different feeling in the city of Bay Village this week.

With more than five minutes remaining in the girls D-II state semi-final game against Chippewa, every other reporter left the press box to get down to the field. I waited because I was convinced Caity O’Hara would make something happen. She did as she created multiple scoring chances for her team in the final moments. The best came with just 40-seconds remaining when she made a beautiful cross to Katie Kinkelaar in front of the goal. I leaped out of my seat and yelled “There it is!”

I was ready to laugh at the rest of the media as they filed back into the box for the overtime. But the ball bounced back out and play continued. Bay kept playing and O’Hara created another scoring chance in the final seconds.

I have not seen the tape, but those who have say the ball cleared under the crossbar, hit it on the inside and bounced back out. If you have seen Bay play this season, you know that when they score, they dominate afterwards. A goal is like a Scooby-snack to these girls. If they got that first goal, you had to believe they would score a second one as well.

With just over 12 minutes left in the Bay boys D-II state final, the Rockets scored on their specialty- a Jeff Lindhart throw-in to the head of Nate Toennies. It was the same play that won the CVCA game, something other media sources called “lucky” but it is a play Bay scored on 15 times this year and both offensively and defensively takes up the majority of their practice and planning.

Toennies flicked it to Tyler Barnett, who headed it into the goal. But the play was ruled offsides. The goal was taken off the board and the Rockets lost in a shoot-out.

Again, I did not see the game tape. Those that did say, the Bay player was clearly not offsides.

Strangely, (if you live outside of Bay Village, that is) neither Bay coach is all that ruffled by the calls. Both are class acts, who got the most out of their teams’ talent this season. Both have also taught life lessons to their players at the same time.

Each handled the controversy in their own way. Beth Gavin-English did not even watch the tape. She knows she can’t change the call, so she doesn’t have to see it with her own eyes. She said her team left everything on the field and that is all she asked for.

Dougherty said all of the rights things after the game. He knew as well, his team left all they had on the field. He said he knew referees do their best and he respects what they call on the field. His wife, a former soccer player herself, said she thought the play was offsides when she watched it live. Still. Dougherty had to see the play himself. He watched the tape frame by frame, but he waited until his wife went to bed.

He is convinced the goal should have counted, but he has no bitterness and is asking for no inquires. In fact, he complimented the official for making a gutsy call when often one won’t in a game changing situation.

Bay has a long and storied soccer history. Not only do they currently have two coaches who had continued and built upon that history- they have two coaches who are great role models, on and off the field, for their young adults.

I am sure that comes as no surprise to the followers of Bay soccer. But it is an example that being a winner has little to do with winning titles. Both coaches taught their teams that how you behave in defeat in just as important as how you behave when you win.

While these seniors can never get another opportunity at the high school level, the lessons they take from their coaches will be felt for the rest of their lives. And when their coaches return to the state level, and I have no doubt they will, these seniors will be the proud alumni those players will try to emulate.