Last season the men’s soccer team was playing Biola when an incident occurred involving midfielder Alex Lopez. Head coach Randy Dodge got involved on Lopez’s behalf. During this interaction, Dodge crossed the midfield line and automatically received a red card. In soccer, a red card is the greatest extent to which a player or coach can be penalized in a single game.
The rules state that when players or coaches receive a red card they are required to sit out the next game, even if it is received in the last game of the season. Dodge was supposed to sit out this season’s match against Cal State San Marcos, but he failed to do so, violating NAIA regulations.
The error took place without realization by Dodge or the Vanguard Athletic Department, and Dodge continued to coach in the next five matches of the season, voiding the victories that the Lions earned in those games.
“It’s my responsibility, it’s all me. It’s not [the] administration’s fault, it’s not GSAC’s fault, it’s not my [assistant] coach’s fault. It falls on me,” Dodge said.
The six revoked victories are a major blow to the men’s soccer team, which was beginning to have the best season in Vanguard history with a record of 8-1-0. The impact of the ruling on their national tournament ambitions is clear.
“The best way to qualify for the national tournament is to be the GSAC champion, and they still have plenty opportunity to do that,” said Bob Wilson, Athletic Director.
Although the six losses will impact the team’s national ranking, the players are focused and ready for whatever obstacles lie ahead.
“One thing that I have been preaching to them about is you know God has us go through these things for a reason,” Dodge said.
The players have become even more determined in a situation where it would be easy to get frustrated and upset. “Now, instead of having a little bit of leeway, we have to win no matter what, and we have our sights set on that. And we know we can do it, and quite frankly I think we are going to do it,” senior Trevor Herrera said.
The GSAC ruling hasn’t changed the team’s goals, just how they will get there.
“We need to step back and realize what we are playing for: we are playing for GSAC. Not those six games. We are playing for GSAC — that’s our main goal,” sophomore striker Kevin Cornwall said.
Great teams perform under pressure. They step up to the challenges before them. The Lions have proven themselves to be a team capable of tuning out the hype, the drama, the setback, and just being the team that they know they can be.
“God only gives us as much as we can handle, and we can handle this. I firmly believe in these guys that they are gonna be able to handle this adversity they are going through,” Dodge said.