How to Score a Goal in a Time Crunch
Here’s the situation: Your team has 5 minutes left in the game. You are down 2-1, and desperately in need of a goal. The other team realizes the situation and starts to pack it in. They’ve got their entire team residing in the penalty box and are simply heaving the ball away every chance they’ve got. Meanwhile, your team begins to throw players forward in desperation. How can you find that crucial goal?
The first thing to understand is that you cannot panic in this moment. Panic leads to errant play and mistakes; hardly the stuff that’s going to get your soccer team a late equalizer! You need to play with a sense of urgency and a directness, but don’t freak out. The problem with panicking is that you’ve forgotten that you still have 5 minutes in order to score. Although the clock is ticking, it’s not like in ice hockey where the moment the clock strikes 0 it’s all over. In soccer you will have a few moments in those dying seconds, and if you’re team is in the middle of an attack, there will be several more seconds to build the attack.
Playing with urgency is vital though. You certainly need to create some chances in a hurry. Make sure your team has possession. When the other team gets on the ball, attack them in a swarm. Your opponents will be trying to slow the game down and will be feeling a bit of that panic bug as well. Distress them through heavy pressure into giving you the ball back.
When you have the ball, take it to the edge of their penalty box. This should be rather easy since they have packed everyone within it. This is where things get tricky. You need to prod and probe them into leaving open a gap. This requires extreme patience and smart teamwork. Pass the ball around. Forwards and strikers should be meandering through the defenders and searching for the vital gap in which the ball can be passed. This can lead to the shot that makes the breakthrough!
One thing soccer teams desperately should avoid is the long-range shot. While it’s true that such a shot could potentially make you the big late-game hero, those odds are highly stacked against you. Chances are the ball will be blocked by a defender anyways, but blasting away from afar is a great way in which to destroy your team’s chances. Most likely, you will get too excited and send the ball flying over the crossbar, and watch in frustration as the opposing goalie takes 45 seconds to perform the goal kick. Then watch another 45 seconds tick by as your team works the ball back to the offensive third of the field. Congratulations, you’ve now wasted a vital 90 seconds of game clock!
Instead, you have to find a breakthrough to get a real goal-scoring opportunity. Try to lure the defenders out of their positions by dribbling the ball around them or by faking to go for the long shot. That could throw everyone into block mode while you can simply take a touch and find several defenders off balance. Whatever way you can, get the ball to someone with a clear shot on goal from a close distance.
Obviously, scoring late in a game like this is a tough task, and often fails to be successful. But if you try really hard and play with urgency (not panic), you may just be able to get that breakthrough and save the game, earning full marks for heroics in the process!