It seemed to come out of nowhere. In the midst of a tight South Carolina girls soccer match between two area rivals, a player fell after a seemingly innocuous foul. While most anticipated that she would calmly restart play, what she did instead has sparked a criminal investigation.
The player who is now the subject of local law enforcement is Lewisville (S.C.) High senior Annette McCullough, who brutally attacked an unnamed Chester (S.C.) High opponent during a Monday match. While there is no video showcasing prior incidents between the two players, McCullough reacted viciously to a small trip that sent her tumbling to the ground.
The attack, which you can see above, featured hair pulling, punches being rained down on the Chester player -- Carolinas CBS affiliate WBTV counted 11 different punches -- and a frantic attempt to halt the attack before it reached even more dangerous levels.
Fittingly, McCullough was immediately sent off with a red card, escorted away from the field with the aid of an assistant referee. Shortly thereafter Chester County deputies were called to the scene and McCullough -- who is 18 years old -- was charged with simple assault.
Alan Parker, the referee of the match, made perfectly clear that this incident invoked a sense of violence that made it much more troubling than other girls soccer skirmishes.
"Some incidental contact ended in one girl going down and she just got up and started pummeling," Parker told WBTV. "It's unfortunate, it really is. Contact is a part of soccer, but when you retaliate like that, obviously, there is no place in the game for that.
"Occasionally you have players that go at it, on the field together, but in this case it was just one girl pummeling the other girl. And she didn't stop which is even more egregious."
It's hard to watch the incident without thinking back to New Mexico defender Elizabeth Lambert, whose hair pulling and general dirty play in a game against BYU received massive Internet attention and eventually landed her a lengthy suspension. One could argue that Lambert's fouls may have been worse because she was more level-headed when committing them, but they certainly weren't as violent as McCullough's attack.
Now the senior is likely to receive a significant penalty -- the mother of the victim insisted that she will push to have McCullough prosecuted to the fullest possible extent and be banned from any further soccer action -- and doesn't appear to be receiving any support from her school, either.
"I know it will not be tolerated on this team and here in Lewisville," Lewisville assistant girls soccer coach Paul Atkerson told WBTV. "This is something that should not have happened, it should not have happened at all."
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