There could be something missing the next time two Arkansas high school soccer teams play a conference match that ends with a tie score.
Shootouts to determine a winner during regular-season matches could become a thing of the past if Proposal No. 3 passes during the Arkansas Activities Association's annual meeting of the governing body Aug. 3 in Little Rock. The proposal will eliminate the penalty-kick periods during regular-season matches and allow conference matches to end in a tie.
"That's the way it used to be," Harrison Coach Chris Pratt said. "I'm a traditionalist, so I fully support this. The shootout just doesn't fit with the game of soccer. Sometimes, a tie on the road is just like a win for some teams.
"The rationale with going to penalty kicks means teams are staying on the field for another half hour, and that doesn't help with road trips. In some matches, it has got to the point that teams are just playing to get to PKs, and that's not the way the game was meant to be played."
The proposal is a result of the annual spring survey the AAA sends to all the schools in the state. The idea of eliminating the shootouts in soccer received a 92% approval from the school's principals and superintendents, according to AAA Executive Director Lance Taylor, and the AAA board of directors gave it a "Do Pass" recommendation by a 19-0 vote.
It will require a majority vote from the schools in order to pass. If passed, it will become effective with the next soccer season.
"This will align it with traditional soccer and college soccer rules," Taylor said. "That's the same thing they do."
It will also cause some modifications to be used toward the conference standings. Instead of the traditional win-loss records, point systems will be used to determine which teams will advance to the state tournaments and what seeds those teams will secure.
Each team will receive three points for each victory it earns during conference play, one point for each tie and no points for a loss. In the event of two or more teams having the same amount of points, the traditional AAA tiebreaker rules will come into effect.
"I don't think this will skew the standings at all," Bentonville West girls Coach Kerry Castillo said. "Honestly, I think it will make things more valid, and it will heat up the playoff race. I think teams will like the idea of trying to snatch a point against a better team then to feel the pressure of a must-win game. It should make the last few games more lively with more teams having a chance to reach the state tournament.
"What this will do is put coaches to task in sorting out the game more, reading their players and knowing what point scenarios lie for their team. If I have a team that is trying to hold on to that last playoff seed, then I will do what it takes to hang on to that one point. I like that idea because there will be more to play for now."
State tournament matches will continue to be played the same way, with teams going into overtime periods if the score is tied at the end of regulation. If the score is still tied after a pair of 10-minute overtime sessions, then the match will go into a penalty-kick shootout.
Henry Apple can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWAHenry.