Understanding overtime: Girls soccer teams ready mentally and physically

Hart's Taylor Moorehead (9) jumps to drop a ball against Long Beach Poly's Lauren Carroll (10) at Hart on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

In Foothill League girls soccer play, there are three outcomes for matches: win, lose or tie.

In the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, however, if a match ends with an even score, two 10-minute overtime periods are added. Whoever scores the first goal, the “golden goal,” earns the win.

Overtime is met with mixed feelings for both players and coaches. On one hand, the glimmering chance of a win still looms. On the other, the game becomes more unpredictable.

“With overtime, we do get anxious because we haven’t been in overtime during (the season) and it is something you should get a little bit hyped up for,” said West Ranch forward Aliyah Satterfield.

“But at the same time, you don’t want to let the moment get too big. We like to be excited but at the same time just play our game.”

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If no one scores in overtime, penalty kicks ensue, which is the situation that Valencia High (whose coach was unavailable for interview) encountered Thursday on the road against San Luis Obispo.

After a scoreless regulation and overtime, the Vikings won 4-2 in PKs.

It’s tough to practice for overtime, but penalty kicks can be rehearsed.

Both West Ranch and Hart coaching staffs prefer to have their players execute shots at the end of practice or after conditioning to mimic an end-of-game scenario when legs and bodies are most tired.

“I did it once during the Hart Showcase (tournament), then I didn’t practice at all during league because there’s no PKs during league. You just had to know your main PK-taker,” said Hart coach Guilherme Mitrovitch. “As soon as we made CIF, I practiced PK’s every day.”

“At the end of the day you just have to do what you’ve got to do to get the goal.”

-West Ranch’s Aliyah Satterfield

But overtime isn’t just about being physically prepared. There are decisions to be made in the minutes leading up to it.

One choice can decide the game. In Hart’s game on Tuesday against Long Beach Poly, Mitrovitch had to choose between subbing out starting players in order to have fresh legs for overtime or riding the momentum that the Indians had garnered as the second half neared its close.

He decided on the latter, and it paid off. Taylor Scott launched a goal with 2:05 left to win the game 2-1 sending the Indians to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

“For a coach, they’ve got to pay attention because it’s a catch-22,” said Mitrovitch, whose team will host Upland at 3 p.m. Tuesday. “I would normally sub a little bit more in the second half, but I thought we had the momentum and I didn’t want to change.

“But I knew I was being risky because overtime was coming and my team might be a little tired in overtime.”

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West Ranch coach Jared White concurs. The Wildcats also neared overtime on Tuesday before Satterfield scored in the 62nd minute to lift West Ranch to a 1-0 win, its first-ever playoff victory.

“It’s tricky,” said White, whose team will travel to Temecula Valley on Tuesday for the second round of the D2 playoffs. “You have to be paying attention to the game and reading your players and knowing their fitness levels and how far you can push them, which ones you need to get out for a few minutes to keep fresh for overtime.”

While there may be myriad ways to plan for overtime, there is no true way to be completely ready.

That’s just the nature of playoff games. Each one has a different flavor, but whether sweet, salty or sour, the objective remains the same.

“There’s not really any way to prepare for overtime,” Satterfield said. “At the end of the day you just have to do what you’ve got to do to get the goal.”

Valencia will host Newbury Park at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Division 2.

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