SRU’s Morgante referees CONCACAF Gold Cup final
C.J. Morgante and his fellow officiating crew prior to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final between Jamaica and Mexico.
August 18, 2015
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University assistant track and field coach C.J. Morgante recently had the distinction of serving as an assistant referee for the top international soccer tournaments of the summer when he was selected to work the 2015 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Gold Cup.
"This assignment is truly a great honor for C.J. and one that makes all at PRO very proud," said Peter Walton, general manager of the Professional Referee Organization. "It is testimony to his hard work, ability and sacrifices over many years."
Morgante, a certified CONCACAF and FIFA soccer official, helped oversee five games in the month-long tournament that concluded July 26 and decided the CONCACAF entrant for the upcoming Confederations Cup. Morgante was on the field for three group-play matches, a quarterfinal round contest as well as the championship game between Mexico and Jamaica.
"I was honored to be selected to referee my third Gold Cup," said Morgante. "I was more excited this year than the previous Gold Cups in 2009 and 2011 because I knew more of what to expect and had a better understanding of the magnitude of the games. My previous experiences at the Gold Cup with elite instructors, assessors and other referees has given me more knowledge and confidence as a assistant referee at this level."
Making the honor of being selected to be an assistant referee in the finals all the more impressive is the fact Morgante is the first American in documented history to work a Gold Cup final.
"I felt that I had a good tournament with the four previous games and was not sure if a fifth game was possible in the same tournament, especially the final," said Morgante. "When I was selected, I was extremely excited and nervous and could not believe that this opportunity was actually happening. It was hard for me to believe that I was chosen to work with such an elite group of referees."
The Gold Cup final, which was won by Mexico, was played in a sold out Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and carried live on television across the world on Fox Sports 1. Morgante is no stranger to being on the biggest stages of the sport. He has now been the assistant referee for three Gold Cups and 132 Major League Soccer games.
"For me there is such an adrenaline rush when you are in the center of a big game with the crowd chanting with excitement or protesting referee decisions and most of all being able to feel the passion for the game from the crowd," said Morgante. "I was very proud to be part of such a big occasion and was so happy that the whole referee crew was able to walk off of the final game with our heads held high. I had a tear in my eye as we exited the field at the end of the game."
Morgante began his rise through the referring profession with his first certification in 1987 when he was just 12 years old. In the last 28 years Morgante has worked his way up through the officiating ranks to become one of only 10 assistant referees in the U.S. eligible to serve as a linesmen for international competitions.
Despite being booked to officiate such high profile events like Gold Cup and MLS matches, Morgante still finds the time in the fall to work college games in the region. He also stays active in area youth soccer via his continued involvement with the Pennsylvania-West Soccer Association.
At Slippery Rock, Morgante has helped fellow assistant coach Bill Jordan and head coach John Papa create a stunning legacy for Rock pole vaulters. Since joining Papa's coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1997, he has coached one national champion, six All-America honorees, 21 all-region performers and 11 PSAC champions.
"We have athletes that work hard," Morgante said. "It goes to show that if you put in the time and trust the coaches you will get results. I take a lot of pride in our pole vaulters coming in and leaving much better than when they first got here. We don't have a lot of scholarship money so a lot of the time we bring in mediocre high school athletes and turn them into title contenders. That to me says a lot about our program.
We have a great staff. Bill works more on strength and conditioning and I handle the technique side. Having two sets of eyes working with our vaulters really takes us to the next level."
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