That soccer games can end in a tie has always bothered me. It seems to me that when a game of any kind ends in a draw, it seems unresolved.
Nowhere does that bother me more than in the final game of the season, like it did Sunday during the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B title game between the Ichabod Crane Riders, who defeated the Broadalbin-Perth Patriots in the Section II semifinals this year, and Section V champion Livonia. The two teams were named state Class B co-champions.
After both teams battled through their seasons and difficult sectional and state tournaments to end in a tie seems wrong to me. I understand they both get the honor of being co-champions, but I also know if that was me, that would ring a little hollow. In the biggest game of their high school careers, the outcome is unresolved.
Obviously that can't happen earlier in the tournament as you need a winner to determine who advances. In boys sectional play in Section II if the game is unresolved after two 15-minute overtime periods, then the game goes to penalty kicks, where the game's outcome is decided.
All season, the Riders wore warmup suits that said "unfinished business" on them. Obviously, that referred to their loss to the Patriots in last year's sectional championship game before Broadalbin-Perth went on to win its state championship. But things must feel even more unfinished because after battling to a 0-0 tie after 110 minutes of scoreless soccer, they never got any resolution.
The game was unresolved.
I always wondered why this was the case. I first encountered this state tournament result several years ago and the reason was given to me was penalty kicks only are used to determine who advances. Fair enough, but I always wondered why penalty kicks were good enough to determine who advances to the state championship game, but not good enough to determine who hoists the championship plaque on the final day of the season.
But it isn't and I know I have to accept that.
So maybe another solution is needed. Why not continue to have 5-minute golden goal overtimes until someone wins? I'm sure the state tournament coordinators are concerned about the schedule and they have every reason to be. Five games on one field can lead to at least 10 hours of soccer and I know that's a long day. They also don't want games starting an hour or two late.
However, eventually someone is going to get fatigued and falter and a shot is going to find its way into the back of the net to determine a state champion. Eventually there will be a defensive breakdown or some striker will make the play of his life and find a way to get his team the victory and state championship they traveled hundreds of miles to get.
But in the state final, once live play is over, so is the game and two teams have been named champion. There's no question that both teams have a lot to be proud of. There are too many high schools in the state to count and only 10 got to play Sunday. There are hundreds more that would have loved to be in Middletown on Sunday.
I don't know how these teams feel, but win or lose, I'd rather have a resolution. Because with anything less than a win, business still seems unfinished to me. Even with a championship plaque sitting in the lobby.