2017 NCAA Soccer Rules Changes

Published on March 18, 2017

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By: Todd Abraham, NISOA Sr. Director of Instruction

Todd Abraham

Todd Abraham, NISOA Senior Director of Instruction

The NCAA announced a series of Rules changes for 2017 to align the collegiate game with the Laws of the Game used for international play. The NCAA operates on a 2-year rules cycle, however, is permitted to make mid-cycle changes in order to align with the governing international sports authorities. To that end, the NCAA committee approved the following changes:

Denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (Rule 12.5)

Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball offense the player is sent off wherever the offense occurs.

Where a player commits an offense against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned and shown a yellow card unless:

  • The offense is holding, pulling or pushing or
  • The offending player does not attempt to play the ball or there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball or
  • The offense is one which is punishable by a red card wherever it occurs on the field of play (e.g. serious foul play, violent conduct etc.)

In all the above circumstances the player is shown a red card and ejected.

Kickoffs and restarts (Rule 8.2/13.2)

The ball may now be kicked in any direction (previously, it had to be kicked forward) on a kickoff. Additionally, the ball must now visibly move (previously, just had to be touched) to be put in play.

Restart position on offside (Rule 11.2)

The restart shall be with an indirect free kick taken from the initial place where the player was judged to have created an offside offense. Therefore, the restart is at the position when he either (1) participates in play (2) interferes with an opponent or (3) gains an advantage by being in that position.

This means that a restart may be in the player’s own half of the field if she/he was in an offside position (in the opponent’s half) then returned to his/her half of the field to receive the pass. The offside offense occurs when the player participates in play which may be in his/her own half of the field. The AR mechanics is to remain with the second to last defender, never moving past the half-way line and indicate the offside infraction when the offensive player touches the ball. It is the referee’s responsibility to indicate the correct position for the restart.

Additionally, if a player is an offside position and a teammate is onside, the AR should continue to “wait and see” aligning with the second to last defender, then the ball as it is played past the defenders. When the AR judges that the offside attacker plays the ball, the flag should be raised and the restart is where the attacker has been judged to be participating in play (not where the defenders where when the long ball was played). This means that the restart may be much closer to the defending team’s end line than in the past. For example, a defense is playing an offside trap at the halfway line. The opponents play a long ball to a player who was in an offside position and is not played by that player (who started in an offside position) until the penalty area requires a restart at the penalty area, not the halfway line.

2017 NCAA Soccer Rules Changes
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