During a recent U-11 girls soccer game, our goalie was positioned on the goal line when she caught and maintained the ball at chest level. However, within a second or two of catching the ball, she took one step backwards to regain her balance but continued to maintain her hold on the ball. No one thought anything of it, the goalie came out of the box to punt the ball, the other teams parents did not react to this in any negative way, nor did the center (main) ref question that pay continue. However, the side line ref called raised his flag saying that the goalie crossed the line, therefore it counts as a goal for the other team, even though she maintained possession of the ball.

I am seriously confused by this. Numerous times we see professional goalie catch the ball within their goal box and behind their line and it is NOT counted as a goal. The only specific rules I can find are Law 10 that says the ball must completely cross over the line, but no where does it define whether a goal can be made if it is caught prior to crossing the line but if a goal takes a step backwards after the catch is made.

Could you please tell me if there have been any clarifications to this rule or previous precedents set that would clarify this?

USSF answer (October 3, 2008):
Law 10 (The Method of Scoring) tells us:
Goal Scored
A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.

This means that any time the ball, while still in play, completely crosses the goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar, a goal is scored. It makes no difference if the ball goes there from a shot, a deflection, or is carried there by the goalkeeper. Conversely, no goal is scored if only the goalkeeper and not the entire ball crosses the goal line.

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