It’s been a few years since I’ve spent any time watching soccer.
The game was simpler then.
Seriously, as long as none of the conscientious moms replaced the donut holes and juice boxes with orange slices and bottled water, the kids left the field in a good mood.
Overtime was never part of the game.
So last week I’m watching North Rockland and Suffern go up and down, back and forth under the lights for 80 minutes without scoring a goal. Hey, it’s soccer and that happens. The issue that inspires a fair amount of concern in a season where the schedule is compressed is the extra 20 minutes of wear and tear that followed.
And yes, I forgot to bring a snack.
“I don’t see the point of playing overtime in the regular season,” said Ciara Ostrander, a standout forward at Somers. “It really takes a toll.”
The situation deserves scrutiny.
Under guidelines in play across the state, overtime includes two mandatory 10-minute sessions and there is some logic in the process.
“Weather is an issue upstate, especially in the postseason,” longtime Pearl River coach Tim Peabody said. “If you’re playing against the wind, it’s a big disadvantage and the girls do not have the same leg strength as the boys. You don’t want the game decided by a coin flip. This gives both sides an equal chance.”
It doesn’t matter how many goals are netted along the way, the girls play to the bitter end. The boys utilize a golden-goal format, which is a retooled label for sudden death.
So what’s the problem with a tie?
We all enjoy the drama that comes with overtime, but there’s really no urgency to determine a winner until we get into sectionals.
“I’ve been coaching for 30 years at every level,” said Pelham coach Massimo Gargiulo. “It’s my first year coaching varsity girls and the overtime makes no sense. There’s nothing wrong with an 80-minute tie, especially with all these games played in a short amount of time. Even the golden goal doesn’t make sense for the boys.”
That seems to be the consensus.
“It’s not a natural part of league play anywhere the game is played professionally,” Sleepy Hollow coach Anthony Patierno said. “Adding extra minutes to an already packed schedule has no real benefit. If the game is a tie, let it be a tie at the end of 80 minutes. A tie is definitely part of team strategy. I might play a powerhouse like Somers and look to end in a 0-0 tie. The point for my team would be well-earned and they would be frustrated not leaving with a win. That is definitely part of team tactics in soccer.”
“Two weeks ago my girls played five games in eight days and three of those games went to overtime,” Clarkstown North coach Bryan Smith said. “That’s nearly another entire game. When you have 16 games in such a short period of time, you are really risking player injury.”
“At this age I think the biggest negative to this rule is the kids’ welfare in that they are already playing far too many games in a short period of time,” John Jay coach Dave Nuttall said. “And then you’re making them play extra time on top of that. At the end of the game when players are already suffering from fatigue is when they are most susceptible to injury, and you are pushing these kids even further for no reason as it’s a league where ties count for points.”
There is an option.
According to Section 1 executive director Jen Simmons, both schools may agree prior to a game to let a tie stand at the end of regulation. Of course, that only applies to regular-season contests.
For some reason, that common sense amendment is not widely known.
The proverbial ball was dropped somewhere along the way and the powers that be need to huddle before next season and get on the same page. And if it helps remind everyone what’s really important, I’m happy to bring donut holes and juice boxes.