How it Works: Soccer 101

Editor’s Note: How it Works is a new series starting this year, where our writers will be going over the basic rules and functions of the game. Soccer 101 is the first of many to come.

The Minnesota State Women’s Soccer team is arguably one of the most exciting aspects of our school right now. The squad finished last season with a 14-2-6 record and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Heading into the new season, expectations are high, they hope to build on their success. 

The high expectations for the team is not just internal. The Mavericks were picked to finish first in the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. They received eight first-place votes and 187 points. Augustana finished in second with four first-place votes and 177 points. Bemidji State rounded out the top three by finishing with two first-place votes and 170 points. 

Now that you know a little bit about the team and their standards, here is a breakdown on how soccer works so that you can support your Mavs. 

Each team has 11 players on the field, including one goalkeeper. In case you didn’t know, Americans are pretty much the only place in the world where the sport is called soccer as opposed to “futbol.”. 

With that in mind, the game is primarily played with your feet, but you can use any body part except your arms and hands. Goalkeepers are the only players on the field allowed to put hands on the ball when it is in the field of play. Their job is to prevent the ball from going into their goal. However, they can only do so in their own penalty box. There are two penalty boxes on each end of the field near the goal. 

The rest of the players have two “simple” jobs: score goals and prevent the opponents from scoring. Positions include defenders, midfielders and forwards. Defenders are usually the last line of defense protecting the goalkeeper. Midfielders are primarily in the middle of the field and do a bit of everything. Forwards are typically the closest to the opponents goal and are largely responsible for a team’s attack. 

A soccer match is 90 minutes long with two 45-minute halves. Unlike other sports, the clock doesn’t stop, so the referee adds on time at the end of each half depending on the amount of time play was stopped. This is called stoppage time. 

Now to some of the rules of the game. An offside is called when the team that has possession  passes the ball to another member on their team when they are behind all the opposition’s players on the opponent side of the field. 

A penalty kick is awarded to the attacking team when they get fouled by the defending team in the opposition’s penalty box. They get to take an uncontested, one-on-one shot against the goalkeeper from six yards out with everyone else from both teams standing outside the penalty box. A team can also be awarded a penalty kick if their opponent gets a handball in their own penalty box. A handball is when a player other than the goalkeeper touches the ball with their hands or arms. 

Referees in soccer use a card system to keep things under control. There are two cards: a yellow card and a red card. A yellow card is a caution. This may come as a result of things like a foul committed that was a bit robust, breaking up a good attacking position from your opponent by fouling or an accumulation of fouls throughout the game. A red card is an automatic removal from the match. This may be given as a result of two yellow cards or a reckless foul that is dangerous to the opponent. When a player receives a red card, there is no replacing them. The team playswith one fewer player on the field for the rest of the match. 

Now that you are basically a soccer expert and the regular season is just around the corner, it’s time to get hyped for your Mavericks. 

Head Coach Brian Bahl recognizes the massive support that the team already gets and hopes everyone gets involved. 

“This community has just been phenomenal in regards to the way they support our program. Too many places, women’s soccer is an afterthought and that’s certainly not the case here. We just are really blessed to have the type of support that we have here,” Bahl said. 

The Maverick’s start their regular season at home Aug. 31 at The Pitch against Oklahoma Baptist.  

Write to Mohamed Warsame at

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