JIM HUNSLEY: Time for a change in soccer overtime format

2011-10-05T16:00:00Z 2011-10-21T00:25:08Z JIM HUNSLEY: Time for a change in soccer overtime formatBy Jim Hunsley Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 05, 2011 4:00 pm  • 

I'll admit that penalty-kick shootouts in soccer are thrilling for players, coaches and fans, but that doesn't mean I endorse the format.

It just seems so detached from the team concept.

The Duneland Athletic Conference also does this during the regular season, then it's employed in the state tournament. No other sport I know does this.

"The game is not decided on the field of play with 11 versus 11 involved," Michigan City boys soccer coach Bruce Stahl. "In baseball, do they pick the top 5 players and play a home run derby? In basketball, do they shoot foul shots? ... Maybe it should be slam dunk contest. In football, do they line up and kick field goals? I think not.

"Although exciting, let play (alone) determine the winner."

Five state championships have been decided by shootouts. Andrean's girls lost 4-3 on PKs to Indianapolis North Central in 1999.

This postseason, shootouts have been a part of 36 games, including 14 championships in sectional and regionals combined.

Valparaiso's boys coach Danny Jeftich has been on both sides of the decision this season, helping his team celebrate a victory against Chesterton for the sectional title and consoling players after a loss to Munster in the regional semifinals.

"It's a tough way to go," Jeftich said. "Our third shooter, Isaac Witherow, missed and he was devastated. He felt like he let the team down. We tried to console him.

"You work since June 1, and now you're one kick away. We just felt stunned that the season was over."

I think undue pressure is put on all parties in this scenario. These are still teenagers -- and this is quite a burden to carry for the rest of your life.

Like Jeftich, I would like to see a golden-goal format used in overtime. In a perfect world, I would love to see the elimination of the shootout. Jeftich was quick to point out that wouldn't ever be approved.

"These are student-athletes, and we're playing during the week," he said. "You've got to think about the players."

Right now, two seven-minute overtime sessions are played to their ends, then the shootout begins. I suggested two 10-minute sessions with the golden goal format. Jeftich said he would bring that idea to a state coaches meeting next month.

LaPorte girls coach Bryan Murray is also in favor of the golden-goal format.

It's hard to say if anything will be changed, since the responses I received were mixed.

Both LaPorte boys coach Chris Buresh and Marquette girls coach Megan Ohms don't want a change.

Chesterton boys coach Jamie Sensibaugh, whose team won on PKs against Indianapolis North Central in the 2007 state semis, is in favor of an alternative. He just doesn't think a sole golden goal format would ever be passed.

Portage boys coach Todd Strom suggested two five-minute non-golden goal sessions, then 10-minute sudden-death periods.

Kankakee Valley girls coach John Hufnagel suggested extending the current OT sessions to 15 minutes each.

Hopefully, something is decided next month -- or at least the first step is taken to make a change.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.hunsley@nwi.com.

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