pEMBROKE

Pembroke’s Cierra Hill, left, chases down a ball in front of Bow’s Alexandra Insana during the Division II state girls soccer final. Controversy at the finish of the contest has led to more discussion on the best way to keep time during tournaments.

Windham High School girls soccer coach Matt Bryant likes that the NHIAA soccer timing rules are similar to FIFA’s but said it can create some rare cases of controversy.

One of those cases arose in a state final this season.

Bow forced overtime in its 2-1 triumph over Pembroke in the Division II championship game with an Isabella LaPerle goal that came with 58 seconds left in regulation. LaPerle’s twin sister, Lyndsey, notched the game-winning tally with 2:20 remaining in the extra frame.

In NHIAA games, the official time is kept on the field by a referee and the scoreboard is stopped when there are two minutes remaining in the first half and five minutes left in the second half. New Hampshire Soccer Officials Association (NHSOA) President The Rev. Dr. Robert Odierna said unlike FIFA rules, officials do not have discretion to add stoppage time to the clock in NHIAA games.

Isabella LaPerle’s game-tying goal came 13 minutes after the scoreboard stopped at the five-minute mark, Matt Parker of the Concord Monitor wrote. Bow coach Jay Vogt said after the game that he and his players thought “it was a lot closer to the end” when he heard a referee say there were five minutes left in regulation on the field.

The fallout from the Division II final has led to discussion about whether the current timing rules should be changed.

NHIAA Executive Director Jeff Collins said as far as anyone within the organization can remember, the official time has always been kept on the field and the scoreboard stopped with some time remaining in each half.

The NHIAA changed from stopping the scoreboard with two minutes left in each half to the current model in 2019. The change came after the National Federation of State High School Associations implemented a rule that officials must stop the clock when the leading team makes a substitution within the final five minutes of regulation in an effort to prevent stalling tactics.

Collins said adopting the college model, in which the scoreboard reflects the official time on the field and counts down to zero, has been discussed in the past and he expects it will be again this offseason.

Odierna said the NHSOA executive board voted on Sunday to recommend to the NHIAA that the scoreboard reflect the official time in the state tournament semifinals and championship games. The board also voted to now have the three officials assigned to those games wear headsets.

The NHSOA has previously recommended to the NHIAA that the scoreboard reflect the official time in the semifinals and finals, Odierna said.

“It’s been discussed for several years,” said Odierna, who has been an NHSOA member for 35 years and also officiates college soccer games. “I think the Bow game just brings up the issue again.”

Bryant, Newmarket girls soccer coach Andrew Dawson and Hanover boys soccer coach Rob Grabill prefer the current timing rules to the college model.

“I think the concept is very good if done right,” said Grabill, whose Hanover team was the Division I runner-up this fall. “It allows the official to counteract any stalling measures by a team that might want to kill the clock. ... The final decision rests with the official. The watch is on their wrist.”

Lebanon boys soccer coach Rob Johnstone, who led the Raiders to the Division II title in his 28th season this fall, said using the college model at facilities with scoreboards or at least in the semifinals and finals would prevent a similar situation to the Division II girls final from occurring.

“My personal opinion is let’s take out any potential controversy and have it (the scoreboard) run down,” Johnstone said.

Odierna said the NHSOA feels having the scoreboard reflect the official time in the semifinals and finals will prevent accusations that referees are not keeping the time accurately and allow more immediate corrections to clock discrepancies.

Bryant said he thinks the Division II girls final is an outlier example people who want to change the timing rules will cling to.

“The reason we’re talking about it is it came in such a big situation,” said Bryant, whose Windham team was the Division I runner-up last year. “If the game was in September somewhere in the North Country, we’re probably not talking about this but it happened to be on the biggest stage.”

Universally adopting the college model over the entire season would require each team to have a scoreboard and scoreboard operator. If the college model is used only in the semifinals and finals, those games are played differently than how games are during the rest of the season.

Johnstone and Bryant said in some seasons they have struggled to get game-day volunteers such as having ball runners on the sidelines.

“If you go to a college game ... they’ve got kids doing work study — ball boys and girls at the game, running the clock, keeping score and all that,” Londonderry girls soccer coach Derek Dane said. “Most high school programs don’t have all those resources.”

Regardless of where they stand on the timing rules, many coaches said they want communication, transparency and consistency from officials regarding the time remaining during each half’s final minutes.

“You want both coaches — once the clock hits five minutes, they should know almost every minute how much time is left because the referee is telling you and you know,” said Dawson, who led Newmarket to the Division IV title this fall.

Dane said sometimes he has had officials call the end of a half right on the dot even as one of his players is in the middle of a run on goal. Johnstone has had similar end-of-half experiences.

Players and coaches know those final five minutes in the second half could also become six or seven minutes and you play until the very end, Dane said.

“As long as it’s consistent with the application, players and coaches will be fine,” Dane said.

If the current timing rules remain in place, Johnstone said he would like there to be a point of emphasis with referees in the preseason expressing to coaches that scoreboard clocks are not official.

“I think a lot of it could be improved with improved communication — just an understanding between the coaches and referee on what the expectations are at the end of a half,” Bryant said. “With anything, a little communication goes a long way.”