LOGANVILLE — West Forsyth girls soccer head coach Kim Spence has emphasized, as many coaches do, the importance of fighting until the final whistle.
The Wolverines now intend to go beyond that.
West lost 2-1 to Grayson in a second-round state playoff game on Tuesday, surrendering a goal 22 minutes into the first half, equalizing three minutes later on a free kick by Karson Rosenberger, and falling behind again with 17 minutes remaining in the match, when the Rams’ Jazmine Theus hit a looping shot that Wolverines goalkeeper A.J. Needham deflected but couldn’t keep in front of the line.
That was the officials’ ruling, at least. When Wolverines assistant Eric Swanburg pulled up video of the play on an iPad after the game and West’s players gathered around to watch, the Wolverines became devastated anew, crouching down on the grass and putting their hands over their mouths.
“Can we challenge that?” West assistant Ashley Marinello asked. She then wondered out loud where Wolverines athletic director Brett Phipps had gone and dashed off to look for him. (Phipps had left by that point.)
The video that Swanburg had cued up showed the shot that led to the second goal: The ball appeared to hit the football goalpost after Needham first got a hand on it, and if that were the case, a corner kick would have been called.
In West's view, that meant that the goal was incorrectly given and that the game should have remained tied.
"I'm really, really hoping that there's something we can do about that call," Rosenberger said. "I don't want this to be it. I just feel like we were really robbed."
Here’s video West got of Grayson’s last goal. Appears to show the ball hitting the crossbar off Needham’s first deflection, which means it should have been called out for a corner. pic.twitter.com/GKY22rEp4n— Ian Frazer (@ianmcfrazer) May 2, 2018
While West head coach Kim Spence was unsure of the exact procedure and possible outcomes of the case – this season was her first as a head coach – she said that she planned to send the video to the GHSA.
The GHSA has upheld recent appeals involving misapplications of rules, but the situation from Tuesday would likely qualify as a judgment call. The most recent controversy over one of those was when what would have been a touchdown catch by Peach County in the Class AAA football championship game was ruled an incomplete pass, which the Trojans argued vehemently against and formally appealed. The GHSA didn't consider replaying the game or altering the outcome, though, and the organization has a bylaw on the books that prevents judgment calls from being overturned.
Whatever happens, the controversy dropped another emotional load on a team that was already reckoning with the end of its season.
"Everything," Spence said when asked what she was feeling after the game. "Sad, frustrated, but proud. They definitely worked hard, so not getting the result we wanted for something out of our control, you can't be too mad at that."