Referees are no-shows at boys soccer match in Deming

South Whidbey boys soccer head coach Joel Gerlach was upset when his team arrived at Mount Baker High School in Deming on Saturday and referees never showed up.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
South Whidbey boys soccer head coach Joel Gerlach was upset when his team arrived at Mount Baker High School in Deming on Saturday and referees never showed up.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

It takes a lot to cancel a high school soccer match.

Teams will play through rain, sleet and snow. On Saturday, however, the South Whidbey High School boys soccer team learned it can’t play without referees. The Falcons arrived at Mount Baker High School (about 15 miles east of Bellingham) to play a non-conference match in the afternoon, only to find the field covered with water and no refs.

“It was just that the referees didn’t show up. They had a different time,” said South Whidbey Athletic Director Scott Mauk. “Their athletic director triple checked everything.”

After the teams arrived and the game’s officiating crew didn’t, the Mountaineers and Falcons scrimmaged to make use of the time. The field condition was barely playable, said South Whidbey head coach Joel Gerlach.

“I cannot believe their athletic director did not cancel the game or change the venue,” Gerlach said.

Mount Baker Athletic Director Brenda Terpstra said the soccer officials had booked the wrong time for the match.

“They had the wrong time,” she said in a phone message. “We’ve got it taken care of and squared away. We would just rather leave it at that.”

The game will not be rescheduled. Because the teams scrimmaged, the match is counted as a competition despite no score being reported and no officiating. High school soccer teams in Washington are allowed a maximum of 18 matches, which South Whidbey already has scheduled, including the scrimmage with Mount Baker.

The decision to try to play was consistent with soccer field condition rules. A possibility of harm needs to be imminent for a game to be canceled by weather such as ice or lightning.

“The conditions have to be really, really dangerous. That would include ice,” Mauk said. “Generally we’re lucky to have such beautiful fields that you can really destroy a field playing in crummy weather.”

“You try and play with the conditions you have.”

The cost of the two-hour, 90-mile trip was not immediately known by Mauk. Whichever school hosts a sports event, that athletic director is responsible for scheduling referees and deciding if a field is playable. South Whidbey uses an online program called Arbiter to schedule referees, and Mauk wasn’t sure how Mount Baker arranges its officiating.

“I communicate with different assigners for referees,” he said.

Mauk maintained that it was a simple mistake by the referees and said no changes were needed by South Whidbey to avoid a similar scheduling snafu.

“We haven’t really had any problems before,” he said.

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