It's been a season of frustration for the Lake Oswego boys soccer team, but things nearly escalated out of control at last Thursday's game at West Linn.
The season seemed to have taken a turn for the better when the Lakers jumped to a convincing 3-1 lead last Thursday and were apparently headed to their first victory of the season. Then everything came unraveled.
The game turned around on two crucial calls by the referees, including one that came with approximately 40 seconds left in the contest. Both calls, which were viewed by the Lake Oswego side as horrible, resulted in penalty kicks and West Linn scored on both of them, leaving the game tied 3-3 at the end.
Lake Oswego coach Colin Stead was so incensed that he unleashed a verbal tirade on the head official after the game. No punches were thrown, as was claimed by a few people in attendance, but Stead's outburst left Lake Oswego school administrators with few options.
Stead said he was told later by the school's principal, Bruce Plato, and athletic director Dave Lovelin that he had to resign immediately or he would be fired. Stead then turned in his resignation without further incident. Assistant coach Garrett Marcum has been named the team's interim head coach until a permanent replacement can be found.
'I was forced to resign … But I didn't leave on bad terms or anything like that,' Stead said on Monday.
Stead said he regrets the outburst occurred and apologized for any embarrassment he caused the school and the soccer team. But he said the seeds for last Thursday's outburst were planted several days before.
In fact, it started with the season-opener when the Lakers let an almost certain win against Grant turn into a sour-tasting tie. After the game, several Lake Oswego players complained that Grant players were allowed to commit several uncalled fouls.
Then, in a recent 2-1 loss to Putnam, Lake Oswego's Nic Watson scored what appeared to be the game-tying goal on a penalty kick. But the goal was disallowed and the penalty kick was taken away from the Lakers when one of Watson's teammates inadvertently stepped into the penalty box before Watson took the kick.
Stead protested the call, saying rule 62-14 states that Lake Oswego should have been allowed to re-take the kick. Stead said the referee replied that he didn't care what the rule book said. So, Stead and his players entered the West Linn game with a bit of a chip on their shoulders.
But the Lakers seemed to put that frustration behind them with goals by Jackson Ray, Conor McWade and Watson en route to a 3-1 Lake Oswego lead.
Then, the unthinkable happened. With about 20 minutes left in the contest, a Lake Oswego player was called for a takedown in the penalty box. Stead admitted that his player did commit the penalty, but he said the referee ignored an obvious offsides play by West Linn just moments before the penalty occurred.
Stead said the ref admitted to him at the time that the West Linn player was indeed offside, but he opted not to make the call because it had no affect on the outcome of the play. However, according to Stead, the offside player touched the ball in front of the net, and the Lake Oswego defense was suddenly caught out of position, which led to the takedown.
Then, with time running down late in the game and Lake Oswego nursing a 3-2 lead, a Lakers player was called for grabbing an opponent's jersey in the penalty box. Although the call might have been correct, the play occurred well away from where the ball was at the time. Typically, officials won't call fouls like that when time has nearly expired and the resultant penalty kick could determine the outcome of the game.
West Linn converted the penalty kick to tie the game and moments later the contest was over. But Stead still had a bone to pick with the officials.
'We were on the officials' case because we felt we were unfairly done,' Stead said. 'But there were no threats or any punches thrown. Not anything close.'
According to several accounts, most of the complaints were directed towards the refs, with several Lake Oswego players voicing their displeasure as well. One Lake Oswego player was later suspended for a game because of his role in what happened.
Then, because of an apparent fear that the outbursts would turn violent, five West Linn police officers were called in to calm things down.
'That was shocking to me … the cops getting called,' Stead said. 'I thought that was hilarious. There was no need for that.'
When asked if he threw any punches or was overly physical with anyone during the post-game incident, Stead was adamant in his denial.
'I think I would be in jail if I did throw a punch,' Stead said. '… Anything physical, especially after the game, there's no place for that.'
Yet, Stead said he regrets the things that did happen.
'I realize what I did was lacking,' he said.