U14G game. Two opponents are aggressively pursuing a 50/50 ball in the open field. Blue arrives at the ball an instant before yellow. Blue’s first action, with the ball now directly at her feet, is to shield the ball from the fast approaching Yellow player by moving her body sideways directly into the path of the oncoming Yellow player. Blue player has a more woman-like body. She’s at least a foot taller than Yellow and is widest at the hips. The Yellow player, with a more girl-like body, goes flying over the hip of the Blue player.

In my judgment since Blue arrived at the ball first (albeit only by an instant) and since she was clearly within playing distance of the ball, her act of shielding the ball was legal. In my opinion, the fact that Yellow went flying through the air was the result of her own carelessness. Accordingly, I did not whistle and allowed play to continue.

First, based on these facts was that the correct call?

Second, it is also my opinion that Blue knew that her act of shielding the ball would cause a violent collision between the two and that the smaller girl would be more adversely affected by such a collision. (These were two talented, aggressive players, probably the best on each team, who had been going at each other for some time prior to the collision.) Could Blue ever be called for a foul in this situation? If so, what do I look for to determine a foul occurred.

USSF answer (October 22, 2008):
A player who is within playing distance of the ball — as determined by the referee, not the player — is permitted to interpose her body between the ball and the opponent. The fact that she is larger makes absolutely no difference. If she chose to put her hips in a particular position before the opponent arrived, life is hard for the opponent. Unless you are absolutely certain that the shielding player has physically moved her hip during the actual contact, thus using a part of her body for a purpose that is not permitted — charges have to be shoulder to shoulder, even for women — then there has been no foul here.

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