LOTG: Law 10–Determining the Outcome of a Match

Law 10: Determining the Outcome of a Match



“A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line (there we go again with that ‘whole of the ball’ thing), between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no offence has been committed by the team scoring the goal.”


This is one of the most important aspects of your job—in addition to helping with Offside offences which we will get to later—seeing whether or not a goal was scored!  You can only succeed at this job by hustling and being in the right place at the right time. Which means following the ball all the way to the goal line (and quickly!) so you can be at the goal line when the ball either crosses, or does not cross, the plane of the goal line.  As an AR you must be able to signal with confidence to your Center Referee that you either saw the ball completely cross over the goal line (and within the goal frame) or saw that the ball did not completely cross the goal line. This is the “goal/no goal” decision, and debatably the most important decisions the CR and AR will make during a match.

In order to succeed at this, you must try to be at the goal line when the ball is, and this means hustling when you see a shot taken on goal!  Casually jogging along the touch line (sideline) toward the goal line, watching the ball (and admiring the attacker’s shot) as it hurtles toward the goal mouth will not get you there in time; there is no way you will be able to make that call and inform your CR as to whether or not the ball actually crossed the plane of the goal line (unless it obviously flies past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net).

There will be many situations in your games where the goalkeeper gets his/her hands on the ball and it rebounds/bounces around the goal line. “Did it go in? Did it not go in?” The only way you will know is if you had hustled down to that line in time to make the correct call.

Ooops, Wait, That Wasn’t a Goal…

“If a referee signals a goal before the ball has passed wholly over the goal line, play is restarted with a Dropped Ball.”

This statement, at first glance, seems to come out of nowhere, immediately following the previous explanation of “Goal Scored” in Law 10 of the LOTG. Here’s what they mean:

This sort of situation can happen when a shot on goal is made and there is some question as to whether or not the ball actually crossed the goal line, or if there is a lot of activity (a lot of bodies) in front of the goal and the center referee (from his/her perspective) thinks a goal has been scored–and blows his/her whistle—but the CR has got it wrong!!!    If the AR was in the right position at the right time (keeping up with the ball on a shot on goal as discussed above) to make the correct call, and sees something differently than the CR’s perspective… that the ball did not actually cross the goal line… the Assistant Referee knows for a fact that it is a “NO GOAL, ” the AR must raise his/her flag and let the CR know what happened. In this case when the CR sees that you are not making the usual signal for a good goal (the AR turns and runs towards the halfway line), he/she will (hopefully) run over to you to discuss what you saw and why you raised your flag.

Here you have the situation where the ball did NOT actually enter the goal (assuming the AR saw it clearly), but the referee blew his/her whistle thinking that it did, and therefore stops play. Play should not have been stopped because the ball did not actually cross the goal line and/or enter the goal!  This is one of the scenarios where the referee “…stop(ed) play and the Law does not require one of the above restarts…” (refer to Law 8: Start and Restart of Play). In this case play must be restarted with a Dropped Ball from where the ball was when the referee stopped play. If the ball was within the Goal Area at this time the DB takes place on the Goal Area Line (6-yard line). If the ball was anywhere else at this time, the DB is taken from the spot where the ball was at the time the whistle was blown.


“The team scoring the greater number of goals is the winner. If both teams score no goals or an equal number of goals the match is drawn.”

Unlike most other sports that usually need to end with a victor, during the AYSO Fall season a game can (and often does) end in a tie or a “draw.”  If, at the end of AYSO regulation time, the score is tied the match is over. A draw.

During the end of season “Playoffs,” and in most “Tournament Play” (semi-final and final matches), there needs to be a “winner.”  If the match is tied at the end of regulation there are a couple ways, in this order, that we can arrive determine the winner.

  • 2 additional periods of play, called “Extra Time,” will be added. Like the regulation-time halves, the two Extra Time periods must be of equal length. The lengths of these periods in AYSO will differ, depending on the Age Division of the players. At the end of these two periods, whoever has the greater number of goals is declared the winner.
  • In AYSO we usually do not have a sudden death/golden goal protocol. Both periods of Extra Time will be played out in their entirety.
  • If, at the end of the two periods of Extra Time, the score is still tied then we go to “Kicks From The Penalty Mark.”



This is an exciting, nail-biting, way to determine a winner when a game cannot end in a draw.   As mentioned above, during the regular season of AYSO soccer, games are allowed to end in a tie/draw.  We do not need to have a winning team–although in Region 20 AYSO everybody’s a winner!   However, in tournament play where there must be a winner, if at the end of regulation time and two equal periods of extra time the score is tied, we need to conduct KFTPM.  Basically, it involves a shoot-off with the two teams taking alternate shots on the goal from a prescribed distance (the Penalty Mark). There is an initial round of 5 shots for each team, and if there is still a tie after this round the process continues with “pairs” of shots being taken by the opposing teams and the first team that has more goals after the “pairs” have taken their shots, we have a victor!!!

To more thoroughly explain the process of KFTPM we will dedicate a separate “article” on this exciting finale which you can find by going to the following link: Kicks From The Penalty Mark