Friday, December 18, 2009

Moshier: Defense doesn't win soccer championships

Defense wins championships? Yeah, right.

 

Try convincing a University of Akron men’s soccer team that pitched five straight shutouts in the recent NCAA Tournament and still didn’t win a national championship.

 

Soccer fan or not (OK, so I’m not), isn’t there something wrong with that picture?

 

Akron’s top-seeded Zips, 23-0-1 entering the NCAA championship game, played Virginia to a scoreless tie through 110 minutes before losing a penalty-kick shootout, 3-2.

 

“It’s tough to lose that way,” Akron coach Caleb Porter said. “What makes this one even more tough is that we didn’t give up a goal in the entire NCAA Tournament, and yet we don’t go home with any hardware.”

 

What a way to go is right. The Zips tied the NCAA single-season record with their 23-game winning streak, and set school records for wins, shutouts (19), fewest goals allowed (7) and lowest goals-against average (0.27). The only thing they didn’t do was win their first national championship. What a game? More like, what a shame.

 

The final ended in a tie, but the NCAA’s policy – exclusive for national championship games – requires that a winner be declared for all purposes. So previously-unbeaten Akron, despite not allowing a single goal in the tournament, finished a 23-1-1 season as a “loser.”

 

If playing 110 minutes of soccer isn’t enough, then declaring co-champions would have been a better way to go. If a winner is a must, then take a day off and let the two finalists go at it again.

 

When it comes to a championship game, there’s got to be a better way than an overtime penalty-kick shootout to determine a winner and a loser. Soccer fan or not, I would hope so.

 

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