Nov. 6, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame learned late Tuesday night that the NCAA Soccer Secretary-Rules Editor has upheld Notre Dame's appeal of a yellow card assessment to senior defender/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) during Sunday's 2-1 double-overtime loss at Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship quarterfinals.
The Secretary-Rules Editor ruled that the first of two yellow cards shown to Tucker during the match (in the 66th minute) involved "a misidentification of a player by the Assistant Referee which has a direct impact on player eligibility."
According to NCAA Soccer Rule 10.9, "the decisions of the referee regarding facts of play are final. Protests based solely on matters of referee judgment or the accuracy of a decision shall not be considered." However, that same rule does permit the Secretary-Rules Editor to correct the misapplication of a rule of conduct which has a direct impact on player eligibility.
According to video footage, Tucker's first yellow card was given during a stoppage in play at 65:56 after Notre Dame sophomore defender, Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) shoved Virginia Tech's Candace Cephers while the pair were jockeying for position prior to a Hokie free kick. Cephers' teammate, Ashley Meier, then stepped in and retaliated for Roccaro's shove by pushing Roccaro herself. All the while, Tucker was stationed approximately 10 feet away from the altercation, marking another Virginia Tech player in the penalty area.
After being summoned by his assistant referee on that side of the pitch, the center official (working on the advice of his assistant) then assessed yellow cards to Roccaro and Tucker, but none to either Virginia Tech player involved in the incident.
Because that first yellow card was rescinded by the NCAA (the second caution Tucker received at 75:24 was never in dispute and remains in effect), the red card/ejection she received for her second yellow card and the automatic one-match suspension that came with it also have been rescinded and Tucker is eligible to participate in Notre Dame's next regularly-scheduled match, which would come in the first round of the NCAA Championship, should the Fighting Irish be selected.
In his ruling, the Secretary-Rules Editor also clearly stated that all other statistics and the match result remain final.
"I'm very happy that the NCAA rescinded this card for Liz," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "It helps ease your mind that you can still have some faith in the system, and although this is a very rare occurrence that an ejection is overturned, it was clearly the right thing to do."
"I'm grateful to the NCAA for considering our appeal and ultimately making this decision," Tucker added. "I'm looking forward to being back out there with my teammates for the start of the NCAA tournament next week."
Tucker has never missed a match since coming to Notre Dame, starting 84 of 89 contests to date, including all 19 matches this season at left back, a position she had never played before (she had been a midfielder and part-time forward for the Fighting Irish during her first three years). She is second among all active Notre Dame players with 18 goals, 12 assists and 48 points.
The 64-team field for the 2013 NCAA Championship will be announced at 4:30 p.m. (ET) Nov. 11 live at NCAA.com. Notre Dame is seeking its 21st consecutive berth in the NCAA tournament, having posted a 62-17-1 (.781) record in its 20 prior postseason trips (the second-longest active streak and third-longest all-time), winning three national championships and advancing to the NCAA Women's College Cup 12 times (both second-most in tournament history).
Last year, the Fighting Irish reached the NCAA quarterfinals with a home win over Milwaukee (3-1), followed by a neutral-site victory over third-seeded Wake Forest (2-1) and a road win at second-seeded Florida (2-0) before bowing out at top-seeded Florida State (1-0).
First-round matches in this year's NCAA Championship will be played during the weekend of Nov. 15-17, with the second and third rounds scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 22-24, and the quarterfinals penciled for Nov. 29-Dec. 1, with all matches in those first four rounds played at campus sites. The 2013 NCAA Women's College Cup will take place Dec. 6 & 8 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
For more information on the Fighting Irish women's soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDsoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director