Soccer for Dummies:

Nick Walton

A beginner’s look at positions, goals and other parts of the game

Last week in the Daily Kent Stater, we educated our readers about the game of volleyball. This week – with Kent State’s first Mid-American Conference home games against Ohio on Friday and Akron on Sunday – we learn about the world’s most popular game: soccer.


A goalkeeper’s job is to prevent the ball from going into the goal. Keepers are the only players on the field who can intentionally touch the ball with their arms or hands, but they can only do so inside the penalty area. If keepers touch the ball with their hands outside of the penalty area, the attacking team is awarded a free kick from the spot of the foul.

For the Flashes, freshman Kelly Sherwood and senior Kris Nelson have split time in goal and have combined for 32 saves.


Defenders play in front of the keeper and are responsible for stopping the opposition’s attacks or slowing them down. Defenders’ assignments can vary between man-to-man coverage or zone defense.

The two types of defenders are outside fullbacks and central defenders.

Outside fullbacks play on the left and right sides of the field and patrol the flanks. They rarely move from their sides of the field.

Central defenders defend the middle of the field.

Overlapping is when defenders become a part of the offensive attack by overlapping their position into the attack.

For the Flashes, freshman Vanessa Salerno plays the defender position.


Midfielders are the link between the defense and the offense because they need to attack and defend.

Defensive midfielders often defend the opposition’s best player. They also have the responsibility of picking off errant passes, starting the transition from defense to offense and sometimes becoming a part of the offensive attack.

Attacking midfielders should be able to find teammates with passes and be able to score.

Multiple players occupy the midfielder position for the Flashes, including seniors Cassie Seten, who has started 43 consecutive games, and Caitlin Hester, who has one goal and one assist this season. Other midfielders include juniors Catharine Marosszeky, who leads the team with two goals, Lauren Evans and Jackie Barath, as well as freshman Gabi Ingram.


A forward’s primary responsibility is to score or to help other teammates score.

Strikers, who play in the middle, are known as center forwards. They need to handle the ball, be quick in tight quarters and score under pressure.

The other forwards are called wings. They play on the left and right sides and are responsible for ball possession, dribbling and crossing, which is when they send the ball into the middle of the penalty area for the striker.

The forwards for the Flashes include sophomores Annie Messer, who has one goal this season, Josee Charron, who has five shots on goal, and Kelly Heaton, who has one goal on a team-high 12 shots.


A soccer field is 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. The penalty area, which begins at the end line, is a rectangular area that is 44 yards wide and 18 yards deep. At the top of the penalty area is a semicircle, which is called the penalty arc. The goal is 24 feet wide and 8 feet high.

Basic rules

Each team has 11 players play at once, and each game is 90 minutes long. Extra time can be added onto a game because of substitutions, injuries and other stops of play.


If the score is tied after regulation, the game goes to overtime. Overtime consists of potentially two 10-minute periods, but it ends when either team scores. If the score is still tied after the second overtime period, the game ends in a tie.

Scoring goals

The entire ball has to cross over the goal line to be considered a goal and is negated if the attacking team commits a foul.

In/out of play

The ball is considered out of play when it has fully crossed the end line or sideline. The ball is considered in play if it rebounds off a referee or assistant referee standing on the field or after hitting the crossbar, goal posts and corner flags. The player with the ball may stand out of bounds while dribbling the ball when it is in play.


When a team knocks the ball out of bounds along the sideline, a throw-in is awarded to the other team. Players must throw the ball from behind their head. The thrower cannot touch the ball once it’s thrown in until it’s touched by another player. If the throw-in is not performed correctly, the referee can award the ball to the opposing team.

Corner kicks

Corner kicks are awarded to the attacking team when the defending team kicks or heads the ball over the end line or the goalkeeper knocks the ball over the crossbar. The line where the kicks are taken are marked by arcs and are in the four corners of the field.

Goal kicks

A goal kick occurs when a member of the attacking team knocks the ball over the end line or over the crossbar. The defending team then gets to kick the ball from the top of the penalty area.

Hand ball

A hand ball occurs when players touch the ball with their hands or arms. The ball is awarded to the opposing team after the foul.

Contact sports reporter Nick Walton at [email protected].