Boston College women's soccer versus Hofstra,

Do Cheaters Ever Win?

Fair Play Life Lessons for Girls from NCAA Women’s Soccer

Hofstra (10-8), making its fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament, lost its last three games of the regular season. 

PickyKidPix and I hurried to the game. Her practice ended at 8pm on a Friday so we were only going to be able to make the last half of the first round NCAA playoff of Boston College versus Hofstra. It was 1 to nothing. BC was leading when we got there and we got seats in the middle of the stands near our friends from school; we all go to the same elementary school as the coach’s daughter.

Alison Foley, my mom friend and BC head coach, had forewarned me. Hofstra had 18nyellow cards and 1 red cards for the season. BC? Just 2 yellow cards.

I was expecting shoving, pushing, elbows and maybe some tripping. I sat next to Alison Foley’s sister, who drives up from the Cape for all her sister’s games. She’s a seasoned soccer spectator.

When BC’s Vicki DiMartino had the ball, all of a sudden her head jerked back.

“What the…? She did not just get her hair pulled by #10?!!”

“Looks like that!”

Vicki’s ponytail was yanked but the ref didn’t catch it.


Ten minutes later, it happened again.

This time, a BC player got choked when she received the ball. The Hofstra player had her arm up high, pushing against the BC player’s neck choking her. (My kids demonstrated her move to me.) The ref caught that one and BC got the ball.


This is not soccer. This is WWF wrestling.


I can understand on some level that the NCAA tournament is elimination soccer. You win and move up or you are done for the season. Leave nothing on the field. Except maybe your dignity. Or even better, your integrity. Except no one seems to care about that at Hofstra.

As a parent, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve watched my kid get battered on the field, deliberately tripped every time she had the ball and about to do a breakaway, with a young ref who doesn’t see it. But it’s worse on the other side. My oldest was coached by a college player who was hired to help her team to play more aggressively. Unfortunately, this training resulted in her team committing two dozen fouls in a single game. They dominated the ball, but they lost the game. My husband who watched the game was incensed.

“What are you teaching these girls,” he asked the college student coach.

She shrugged. “The ref’s calling a tight game.”

We had a long talk at dinner that night. Cheating is never good. We don’t care what the coach told you, we don’t want you to play that way.


It’s interesting that the coverage of the game never notes the brutish play by Hofstra. And I wonder what life lessons those players take when they are off the field. That it’s ok to cheat if you don’t get caught?! Or, cheat as long as you only get caught a small percentage of the time? I wonder why their coach turns a blind eye to this. I find that appalling as well and I would never let my child play for that kind of coach, given a choice.

Given that these players won’t likely have a professional soccer career in front of them, I also wonder what will happen to them. My husband says that a round of golf is the best way to discern the character of the person. Someone who cheats in golf behaves the same way off the course and is to be avoided in his book.

But not everyone agrees. PickyKidPix was so annoyed by two Hofstra dads cheering one stand over to us. They clearly had no problem with their girls thuggish style of play, yelling and encouraging them as they shoved and pushed.

In the end, cheaters always lose. On the soccer field and in life. At least, that is how it should be. Can someone please let #10 and #15 know this? Maybe their parents? Or their coach?

As someone who hires college students, I was appalled by their behavior and I can tell you that I would never hire them. Ever!

The upshot is that cheaters never win. Buh-bye Hofstra! First round elimination. And they lost their last three games of the season as well. Perhaps better behavior would result in more composure on the field. And that would translate into a better season. Give that a try next year.

Has this type of soccer field behavior ever happened to you? How do you handle it? Please share.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I played soccer in high school, and we played a team that purposely kicked our top player in the knee. It wound up costing her surgery. And they did win the tournament.

    BUT that entire school had such a bad reputation with sports. Their basketball team once bit a member of our team in a bid to get the ball (!)

    You may win the trophy, but at some point cheating catches up to you – in your own head at the very least.
    maryanne recently posted…Chicken Shoes and CreativityMy Profile

    • Hi MaryAnne,
      There must be karma at work somewhere even if a team wins by cheating. My coach friend at BC said she had to pull her best player during the last 9 minutes of the game afte she scored twice for fear that Hofstra would deliberately try to injure her. I hate that style of play.

  2. Giora

    I don’t know if the term “cheating” for aggressive sport playing is the right term. Cheating is when nobody knows that you are doing wrong. Obviously in this socer game, everyone could have seen the rough playing by Hoftsra’s girls. The bigger question for young girls’ soccer players (like your daugthers) is if the coach teach them to play for the love of the game, or the coach teaches them that you must win, no mater how. There are many stories of parents get angry/violent when their kid’s sport team loses. I don’t know what the right answer, because at the end we remember the winners, they get the trophy, and we forget how they won.
    Really important topic to all parents of kids playing a sport to sit together and talk about letting their kids to play for fun, not just for the win. But human being’s nature is that we want to win. If you can find the appropriate balance between playing for the win and playing for fun, that will be good. So what your daugthers do when a girl tackle them harshly, do they retalieate by playing more aggressively?
    Giora recently posted…BerlinMy Profile

    • Hi Giora,
      I think cheating is knowing that you are doing something deliberately which would be considered a foul or worse if caught. I don’t think cheating is that gray area of pushing, shoving or even tripping as it can be accidental or a tad over enthusiastic. But … hair pulling and choking?! Yes, that is cheating in my book for soccer. Even in wrestling, hair pulling is not allowed.

      But you are right. The bigger picture is playing to win at all costs or playing for fun and love of the game. My friend, the soccer coach, says that if the teams plays aggressively, you just play a little faster and cleaner — faster more precise ball handling. A lot more passing. Think Barcelona Futbol. They never play overly aggressively and they win. A lot!

      Incidentally, Boston College girls’ soccer just lost 2nd round of the NCAA. One reason is that their 2nd leading scorer was benched for “insensitive” tweeting about Sandusky (they were playing Penn State). She tweeted three tweets:

      “I wonder if well get into the visitors locker room at Penn state…”

      “Raping at penn state to getting raped in state penn…#beatPennState #santouchsky #legggooeags”

      “Sandusky used to cart the kids around in this#handydeliverytrucks…”

      Do you think this was the right thing to do?

      “@patricevettori #sandusky’s house tonight! @kristiemewie@kcmosun…”

  3. Dee

    Here in New Orleans, when the whole bounty thing broke, well, at first I had no idea what they were talking about. I’ve never played sports. I followed the Celtics back in the 80s (Sweet Sixteen!) but my family followed motorsports (even though we were from New England, not a bastion of motorsports!). But the closest I had gotten to football games were in high school when I was more interested in checking out a cute boy in the stands than anything going on on the field.

    So when I finally figured out what a bounty was in football, I was incensed. The Saints had based the whole ethos of their team on being the good guys. How – how! – could they have done that!! Many, many fans sloughed it off saying that ALL the teams do it. That was so totally beside the point to me. These were the Saints and they were supposed to be different!

    Here we are, nearly a year later, and the situation is still as clear as mud. Lots of denials, coach on suspension, players on then off then on again. I honestly have no idea what the real story is. I know that many of the Saints players are good guys in that they make a positive difference in their community. They aren’t just out there for the photo ops, they are actively doing good in the community. But the shine is not quite as bright as it was to me. And it will take a lot to make it shine that bright again.
    Dee recently posted…You are not alone!My Profile

    • Hi Dee,
      I am ignorant about football, so I had to look up the Bounty thing:

      The New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, widely dubbed Bountygate was an incident in which several defensive players on the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints found to have operated a slush fund that paid out bonuses, or “bounties”, for in-game performance in violation of NFL rules. The pool was alleged to have been in operation from 2009 (the year in which the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV) to 2011.

      Among other things, Saints players allegedly earned bonuses for inflicting injuries on opposing players that forced them to leave games; however, none of the hits in question were ever penalized or deemed illegal by in-game officials.

      I can see how this would incense you. I have a problem with a illegal bonus for players “inflicting injuries on opposing players.” I would have to think that if fans penalize this kind of behavior by boycotting games and not buying team merchandise, that it forces the team to change their behavior.

      It sounds like to me that the Saints franchise got everyone to swear together that this never happened and no one has cracked for fear of retaliation. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I would think there was a bounty system in place. I can see how you’d be upset. I would be too.

  4. Ann

    I can’t believe that! I am so naive about stuff like that and I never really played contact sports. Maybe sometimes they win but at what cost. I love your perspective on this! I think this would be a good post for syndication. You should submit it to Blogher.
    Ann recently posted…CowabungaMy Profile

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