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When a Tie is a Win


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I coached my two sons’ soccer teams for about a dozen years back in the 70s and 80s. Still have some great memories of that experience and a couple not so great. The greatest game my team ever played was in a post season tournament. The game ended in a 2 – 2 tie, but it was a victory for my guys and here is why. We were a recreational team; not one of those high flying select teams that recruit players and pay their coaches. (Sidebar: Rec teams can be pretty good and the Bobcats were good. A couple of years later, three players from that team—the goalie, the sweeper, and my youngest son, formed the heart of the defense on the Duncanville High School team when they were seniors. That team came within a whisker of making it to the final four in the 1988 state soccer playoffs and would have, but for the referees and there is video proof. But that’s another story.)


Back to the point. I entered the Bobcats in a tournament intended for Rec teams only, but our first opponent in round robin play was a select team from one of the top clubs in Dallas. I talked with the opposing coach before that game and asked him what they were doing there. He just smiled and said someone made a mistake. As we parted, I asked him to take it easy on us.


The select team kicked off and scored in less than 10 seconds to go up 1 – 0. I have to be honest. At that point, I thought we were in for a long day. In the next few minutes, the select team made several more dangerous runs at our defense and had some good shots on goal. However, the play gradually moved out of our defensive end and into the mid field. You could see and feel the confidence building in my Bobcats. Everyone could see it and sense it. The boys began to realize that they could hang with this select team.


Then it happened. Our main goal scorer broke through their defense and put one in the back of the net. Game tied 1 – 1. Now that kid had an odd pattern. As long as I knew him, he never scored just a single goal in any game. Either he did not score at all, which rarely happened, or he scored two or more goals. We all knew what the other team didn’t—that at least one more goal was coming. Sure enough just before half time he broke through again and beat the Select goalie one on one. We were up 2 – 1. The other side was stunned and arguing among themselves on the field and on the sideline.


I had never seen my guys that focused before. They were playing like world beaters against a clearly superior team – superior at least on paper. The second half continued with a tremendous mid field battle. As the confidence of my guys grew even more, you could see the growing frustration of our opponents. The game was nearing its end when an unfortunate foul gave the select team a direct free kick from about 25 yards out. You have to give credit to the kid who took the kick. He made a perfect shot, placing the ball in the upper left corner of the goal to tie the game at 2 – 2, and that is how it ended.


I was never prouder of my team than I was on that day. They played that more experienced, bigger, faster, tournament tough select team to a stand still and even had them on the ropes for most of the game. As I said, it was a victory for my Bobcats.

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