A coach's protest involving an official's misinterpretation of a rule during Thursday's first-round CBBN 3A district playoff game between Kennewick and Kamiakin at Lampson Stadium resulted in a dramatic reversal of fortunes between the two teams Friday.
The Braves won 6-5 in the completion of a shootout which began Thursday, advancing to a first-round regional matchup against Pasco at 1 p.m. today at Edgar Brown Stadium.
Kennewick came away the winner Thursday after 90 minutes of regulation, the result of a 5-4 shootout. But a controversy arose as to whether the Braves' third-round shot by Lucas Dawson should have been counted as a goal after it spun back across the goal line following an initial stop by Lions goalkeeper Angel Romero.
Kamiakin coach Jeff Bennett lodged an immediate protest before the next shooter, but officials conferred and ruled that the shot did not count, saying that the ball's forward momentum had ceased before it rolled past the goal line.
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But Bennett kept the protest moving forward after reviewing the rule book with an assistant coach. Friday morning, the Braves' second-year coach found out that the protest would be upheld by the WIAA, Dawson's goal would count and that the teams would resume the contest after Dawson's third-round shot.
"It was hard for me, because I don't want to be the guy who stomps off the field after a loss, but I talked with our athletic director (Don Schumacher) about it and he agreed we should protest," said Bennett, who, in an ironic twist, missed Friday's replay because of a work emergency. "I know it's incredibly tough for Kennewick as it was incredibly tough for us last night. But if the ball went across the goal line and it was a live ball, then what is my responsibility as a coach but to protest the call?"
One of those most affected by the decision was Romero, who stepped up impressively into a starting role following an injury to Jared Gower, and appeared to lead his team to victory Thursday.
But the proud senior sat on a bench with his head in his hands Friday after the game, heartbroken that a postseason win was snatched away from him and his team.
"I was really mad this morning. I thought, why do we have to do this again?" Romero said. "It isn't fair, because I stopped the penalty kick yesterday.
"There are no words to explain what I'm feeling right now."
Ken Murray, the Southridge AD and CBBN boys soccer chairman, said that the protest was allowed after a thorough investigation of the shot in question and because the official's decision was deemed a misinterpretation of the rules by Yakima Valley Interscholastic Activities Association (YVIAA) director Kent Anderson, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) soccer director John Miller and three neutral ADs. If the official's decision had been recognized as a judgement call, Murray said, the protest would not have gone through.
"I told the boys you don't need to like the resolution, but you've got to accept it," first-year Kennewick coach Brian Gochoel said. "I told them you can use it as inspiration for next year. And next time we go against Kamiakin, make sure it doesn't go to a shootout."
If Romero was the hero Thursday, it had to be Shad Harp this time. The Braves' senior woke up Friday thinking his high school career was over. But the Columbia Basin College-bound keeper was surprised to learn he had another shot at redemption.
"Around 10 (on Friday) morning, coach texted me saying we might have another chance. At 11, I found out it went through," said Harp, who came up big on both days, making two saves in the shootout each outing. Harp had to watch Thursday as Christian Martin clinched what appeared to be a Lions' win with a seventh-round goal.
Friday was a complete role reversal, as Harp jumped to his left to stop Martin's seventh-round shot, giving Kamiakin the win. Gochoel lodged a brief protest in the fifth round after Harp stopped Eduardo Guzman's low liner, saying the Kamiakin goalie came off his line before the shot. But the officials ruled that no violation occurred.
"A lot of coaches think I come off my line because I sidestep. But you're allowed to shuffle," Harp said.
Braves forward Cley Burns also took advantage of a second chance after Romero stopped his sixth-round attempt Thursday. But this time, Burns changed his approach.
"The last time I shot to the right, and that's where he dove," said Burns, who scored the equalizer with just six minutes left in regulation to force overtime Thursday. "I can shoot either way, so this time I chose left. There was no pressure. I just stepped up and hit it."
Kennewick AD Ronny Coleman said that despite the disappointing result, the situation was handled appropriately by all parties. No further protests were expected by the Lions staff or coaches.
"All procedures and processes were followed to a T," Coleman said. "The protest was lodged right at the moment of the occurrence, and they followed it up the next morning. If this is what has to happen, I have no issue with the process."