I went to a fight and a soccer game broke out

Lathrop's Braeden Hoppough (5) blasts a shot on goal past the tough defense of Thunder Mountain's Jeremiah Stephens (15), Brandon Monges (10) during high school soccer action on Saturday at TMHS Field.

The Thunder Mountain boy’s soccer team won a pitch battle against Lathrop, surviving a penalty fest for a 3-1 victory.


I am learning some things about soccer.

Good and bad.

There must be a saying something along the lines of “going to a fight and having a soccer game break out.”

At least on Saturday morning that was how the Lathrop Malemutes were feeling in one of the most eye-raising games of flag raising and yellow carding during a game in which the electric scoreboard was not turned on as the key could not be found to the electrical box.

Officials used their watches, as did coaches, to keep track of the action. That is, actually, minor around here.

But what were major, at least to fans, players, and coaches on both sides… some rather bizarre lopsided calls.

A player shoved and not called, another is called. Numerous addressing on the field as time ticks away (if their was a way to tell how much time was ticking away).

A yellow card issued, and another, and a soft red.

The cold wind blowing out of the glacier.

And, oh yeah, soccer.

The Falcons struck quickly in the game, rather, they were struck first.

Sophomore Nick Druyvestein was pulled down in the Lathrop goalmouth and TMHS was awarded a penalty kick.

Junior Dylan Williams nailed the ensuing PK with just six minutes elapsed into the game for a 1-0 lead.

Ten minutes later Lathrop countered with a goal by sophomore Nathan Barnett on a beautiful through pass from sophomore Braeden Hoppough to tie the score. Hoppough is one of the state’s finer players. That sentiment was echoed by JDHS coach Gary Lehnhart.

I like to watch fine players behave well on the pitch.

TMHS, who have their own fine players, were awarded a penalty kick to start the second half, and as both sides looked perplexed, the shot was taken by Israel exchange student Mohammed Qabani who rifled in the first PK of his career for a 2-1 Falcons’ advantage.

“It was my first PK, I was kind of scared,” Qabani, who returns to Israel in June, said. “Thank God I scored. It was my first ever. I used to play as a goalie and I am new in the field. I am getting used to it thanks to coach Sam.”

Midway through the second half the Falcons’ Colton Womack fired a shot on goal that was blocked. In the scrum Lathrop tried to clear the ball and bounced a pass off a teammate into the Malemutes’ own goal. Womack was the nearest Falcons’ player and was credited for the score.

That final point would hold until the end.

The Lathrop players went through the formalities of shaking hands with Thunder Mountain but did not acknowledge that same civility with the officials.

The Lathrop side tallied a lopsided 20-some-penalty discrepancy between the two clubs.

“I love Thunder Mountain,” Lathrop coach Sean Matheny said. “They did a tremendous job, they played well. I don’t have any ill feelings toward the team at all. I believe that maybe the referees need a little more training, other than that there is not much more that I can say to that. I wish it were called both ways and I wish they were a little more mature and able to take criticism for what it is and not being petty about it and looking for a rule to try and punish us for something not even worth communicating about. Unfortunately if this is going to be the caliber of reffing we are going to get down here we probably won’t be back. It is an $8,000 trip for us to get a game handed away by a referee who clearly did not know what he was doing.”

Lathrop coaches criticized the center officials ignoring of another referees raised flag on numerous occasions, among other complaints.

Lathrop senior Conner Matheny and sophomore Braeden Hoppough showed remarkable poise throughout the match, as did many of their teammates, and were a credit to the Malemutes school.

Don’t get me wrong, the Lathrop Malemutes are not angels. They have some tempers and they can get full of themselves.

“I need to control my anger,” sophomore Nathan Barnett said. “I know that. I really like to be out there playing.”

Barnett could not play the later game against JDHS on Saturday for the afore mentioned red card. And Barnett is a pretty good soccer player, so you know that hurts a kid to not play.

After the game many of the Falcons’ players came over to the Malemutes side and apologized for the progression and dictation of the game by officials.

They invited the Malemutes to the track meet that was about to start and told them about the Southeast Music Festival being in town. They high-fived and shared some laughs.

They laughed about a shot that went rocketing between the goal posts.

And they laughed about a tumble or two.

They did not laugh about yellow and red cards.

And I was told the referees were looking to see if there is a rule about not shaking their hands.

There might be.

They may have to mail a yellow card to Fairbanks.



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