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The Kickaround: OT, extra time or tie?

09/12/2012, 8:44pm CDT

A few weeks ago, a score on the Wisconsin Sports Network boys soccer scoreboard caught my eye: Hartland Arrowhead 5, Waukesha North 2. In overtime.


The referee for the Classic 8 Conference match evidently wasn't aware that WIAA rules – and those suggested by the National Federation of State High School Associations – call for overtime to end if one team scores, a format varyingly referred to as sudden death, sudden victory or golden goal.

"I've been around soccer a long time but never seen anything like this," Arrowhead coach Jeff Staus told the Lake Country Reporter. "Sam Fredman scored in overtime and we thought that was the game, but the referee said we need to keep playing, so we did."

You have to go back a ways, but prep teams in Wisconsin used to play two 5-minute overtime periods regardless of scoring. The WIAA adopted the "golden goal" format in 1994.

When I heard about the Aug. 21 match in the Town of Merton, my mind instantly rewound to a chilly night in Minnesota.

I was working at the La Crosse Tribune, which covers a few high schools in southeast Minnesota, and found myself at a highly anticipated boys match between Caledonia and defending Minnesota State High School League Class A state champion Rochester Lourdes on a fall evening in Caledonia, Minn. A friend at the Tribune dug up the details for me; it was Sept. 21, 1999.

The home side took the lead in the 62nd minute only to see the top-ranked Eagles equalize in the 68th. The upstart Warriors then scored in the 83rd minute, in my mind not only avenging three losses to Lourdes the year before but also cutting the game at least a few minutes shorter – thereby helping a reporter who needed to make a deadline.

All of a sudden, though, as I prepared for postgame interviews, the teams jogged back to the center circle and the Eagles kicked off. I was stunned. Initially, I thought the goal had been disallowed, but the scoreboard showed 2-1.

Unbeaten Lourdes, of course, scored 22 seconds into the second OT and the teams settled for a 2-2 tie. The local team's upset bid had fallen short. And I might have disregarded a speed limit sign or two on those country roads back to La Crosse.

I'm not sure when the MSHSL changed to sudden death overtime, but they still play two 5-minute overtimes in the regular season, compared to the WIAA rule of two 10-minute golden goal periods. Minnesota's rules for the playoffs are the same as those in Wisconsin.

But the Arrowhead-North game got me thinking: Should we go back to playing the full overtime periods for high schools – and colleges for that matter?

After all, that is the format for international play and the World Cup. And it's used for many adult amateur leagues, such as the Wisconsin Soccer Leagues and the National Premier Soccer League, and top youth tournaments like the U.S. Youth Soccer Association Championships. I believe the reasoning is that they don't want a team advancing in overtime – or extra time – on a fluke decision or play, that the teams should instead essentially play a mini-game.

One big difference, though, is that extra time is only played during stages of the tournaments when a team must advance. Otherwise, they call it a tie and move on to the next match. That is certainly not the case in regular-season high school and college games, and especially in non-conference matches. Is this part of some outdated model of thinking that ties are not acceptable, that we need to have a winner and loser in as many games as possible?

I also find it interesting that WIAA regulations don't allow overtime to be played for junior varsity or freshman matches.

So what do you think? Do you like the "golden goal" format, or should we play the full 20 minutes, no matter the score? Or, do we need overtime at all in regular-season matches? Is it OK to tie? Log in and kick it around in the comments below.

Eric Anderson is the publisher and executive editor of Wisconsin Soccer Central.

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