Varsity Extra

Far West soccer: Organizing referees is no small task

Over the course of the first three days of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships, there are 124 games contested each day.

That’s 372 games in three days spread among 20 fields at the Simplot Sports Complex in southeast Boise.

The man in charge of making sure four referees are in place for every one of those games is Rob Martella, the US Youth Soccer Director of Operations.

“You think about 220 bodies and orchestrating movements to and from and all that for our referee group, they do an outstanding job,” Martella said. “Those are things that a lot of people take for granted.”

Martella said planning begins more than six months in advance for each tournament, as the USYSA must coordinate with the 14 state associations in Region IV. Each state association is asked to supply approximately 20 referees for the tournament.

In addition to feeding and housing the 220 referees assigned to Boise this week, Martella and his staff have the arduous task of making sure a center referee, two assistant referees and a fourth sideline referee are on the field for every game. To further complicate matters, referees can’t officiate a game involving a team from their own state association.

Most referees officiate two games per day, with a maximum of three.

“We have timelines. (Referees) have to check in ahead of time,” Martella said. “If they get inside of 45 minutes, they’re going to reassign those referees slots.”

Surprisingly, there were no missed assignments over the first three days.

During pool play, assessors monitor referees, looking for standouts and providing feedback.

The best referees in each age group are asked to officiate quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matches.

“They’re aspiring to be the next MLS or World Cup referees,” Martella said. We’ve had many of those individuals that have come through these kind of programs.”


Belinda Ascencio’s six goals in three pool play games are the most among female players in any age group.

The 5-foot striker for Santa Clara Sporting 99 Green scored four goals in her team’s opener and one goal apiece on Tuesday and Wednesday, helping her under-15 squad go 3-0 in their pool.

“There are a lot of girls that are really good out here,” Ascencio said. “I always put in the extra effort to do whatever my coach tells me to do, but it’s all a team effort. My teammates help me. It wasn’t all just me.”

Ascencio’s six goals accounted for half of her team’s total.

Santa Clara Sporting next plays in the quarterfinals at 2 p.m. Friday on Field 20.

Ascencio, who started playing soccer when she was five, will be a junior at Soledad High in California this fall. She already has a scholarship offer to play for San Jose State, she said.

“She’s very prolific. She plays with boys,” Santa Clara Sporting coach Demitri Cacoyannis said. “Her soccer intelligence is really high. She’s quick, she’s composed in front of the goal and can finish with both feet.”

• Two boys share the lead for most goals in pool play with seven. Real Salt Lake Academy’s Charlie Retzer scored seven of his team’s 21 goals in U-12 competition. In U-18 play, FC Golden State White’s Gabriel Costa led his squad to a win in their pool with seven of the team’s 11 goals. Costa and FC Golden State White next play in the quarterfinals at 8 a.m. Friday on Field 13, while Retzer and Real Salt Lake also play a quarterfinal at 8 a.m. Friday on Field 5A.

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