By Brad Fauber
The new rule that will remove the "soft red" card in high school soccer, which was first announced last January, will take effect for the first time for the spring high school soccer season.
The rule was approved a year ago by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and requires that a player who receives a second yellow card during a match be disqualified for the remainder of the contest, and that player also may not be substituted for, requiring the player's team to play short for the rest of the match.
The ejected player will also be disqualified for his or her team's next match, which is the Virginia High School League's rule for ejections.
Under the previous NFHS rule, a second yellow card for a player during a soccer match resulted in a "soft red" card, which disqualified the player who received the penalty but allowed his or her team to replace that player with a substitute.
The change was made as the NFHS continues to place an added emphasis on sportsmanship in high school athletics, according to the organization's website.
The removal of the "soft red" card could deter high school players from playing overly aggressive, which is a good thing according to Skyline boys soccer coach Chris Holloway.
"I think it's a positive thing," Holloway said. "If you have a player out there who plays too aggressive ... it will hopefully stop it. I think the coach will be more subject to get on him about not getting that second yellow card.
"You've got to just let your players know if you get that second yellow card you're done for the game and the next game, as well."
Holloway said that a player receiving two yellow cards in one match doesn't happen very frequently, but that "once in a while you'll get it."
While the rule change could have a noticeable impact in boys soccer, the possible effect on girls soccer could be insignificant to a lot of teams, according to Warren County girls soccer coach Mike Carpenter.
"In girls soccer, I don't really see it having much of an impact," Carpenter said.
Carpenter did say that the rule change does make sense, given that the "soft red" card does not exist in higher-level soccer. The change now puts high school soccer rules more in line with those used by the NCAA as well as FIFA, the sport's international governing body.
Carpenter said yellow cards are rarely given in high school girls soccer, and he estimated that Warren County generally averages about one yellow card a season.
"I don't think it's going to make much of a difference for us," Carpenter said. "I think out of the entire season [last year] our opponents had three yellow cards and we had none."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org