Make shootouts part of soccer regular seasonMay 16, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer
The good people in the Wyoming High School Activities Association have been huddling at an undisclosed location near Casper.
They have decided that basketball games tied at the end regulation will have one overtime period. If the game is still tied, it will, from now on, end in a tie unless the game is played in a regional or state tournament. Then, and only then, will additional overtimes be played to choose a winner. Ties will now be allowed in regular season play.
Sounds preposterous, doesn't it?
Of course, it is. Don't worry. The WHSAA has made no such rule.
In basketball, every game has a winner and a loser. That's how sports games should be decided. Except in soccer, the beautiful game, apparently. Ties, one must surmise, are cool, because they are permitted.
Ask any player on Lander's soccer team which team won the boys match last Tuesday, and they will all say the same thing.
"We did, you knucklehead. You saw it," they would must assuredly tell me.
Check out the picture I took on this page, and you tell me who won. Pictures don't lie.
Except this one does. The game ended, officially, in a tie. Lander, obviously, just needed one last wind sprint before heading back to Tiger-town.
Let me refresh your memory. After playing 100 minutes of soccer last Tuesday, both Riverton and Lander squads and the center official agreed that the official result of the match would be a tie (as per WHSAA rules) but that a shootout would be allowed to see which team would get the Fremont County Cup, the traveling trophy shared by the two schools.
Leaving the trophy in Hudson after a tie wasn't an option? Of course it wasn't. So, perhaps for the first time in history, a Wyoming High School regular-season soccer match went to a penalty kick deciding shootout, which Lander won 5-4.
It was the right choice by both head coaches, and the right choice by the officials.
Wyoming should consider allowing shootouts to decided all soccer matches.
You can argue that penalty kick shootouts are a poor way to pick a winner. But that is what we have, what the world uses, adds little risk to players who have already played an exhausting amount of soccer, and decides the outcome.
One reason, some believe, is that shootouts at a regional or state tournament are, somehow, more special. You mean to tell me that Riverton boys basketball team's dramatic overtime victory over Douglas earlier this year was not special because it was played in the regular season?
And, you think that Tuesday's Riverton vs. Lander game ending shootout wasn't special to all involved?
Of course it was. Every player on those two teams will remember that outcome for the rest of their lives.
Everything about last Tuesday night's cross county, under-the-lights soccer match was, simply, awesome. The shootout was the exclamation point that made it so.
And should Riverton play Lander again this Saturday with a state championship on the line -- and that game goes to a shootout -- the Wolverines, for sure, will try and create a very special outcome of their own.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!