A college soccer game can be an exciting experience to be involved with. But if you’re new to college soccer you probably want to know the timings of a game, especially how long the game lasts. Let me share with you all the details.
A college soccer game is 90 minutes long. The game is divided into two halves of 45 minutes with a 15-minute break between the two halves. If the game is tied at the end of the 90 minutes playing time, the referee may add on a period of overtime.
Although the aim of a college soccer game is to run for 90 minutes, there are a variety of different factors that affect how long the game lasts.
In this article, I will break down each element of a game and show you what to expect regarding the timings.
How Long are College Soccer Games?
The timings of a college soccer game are broadly the same as any other soccer game.
Both men’s and women’s college soccer games are 90 minutes long. A game consists of two 45 minute halves with a 15-minute break between them. The referee may add stoppage time onto the end of a half. If the game is tied at the end of the game, the referee may add on a 20 minute period of overtime.
The vast majority of colleges in the United States follow the rules of soccer as set out by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Under these rules, a game should last for 90 minutes with a 15-minute break halfway through.
Halftime in college soccer lasts for 15 minutes.
How Long Is a Women’s College Soccer Game?
The timings of a women’s college soccer game are no different than a men’s game.
Women’s college soccer games are 90 minutes long. The game consists of two 45 minute periods with a 15-minute half-time break between them. The referee may add stoppage time onto the end of a half. If the game is tied at the end, the referee may add on two ten-minute periods of overtime.
Women’s soccer follows all the same rules as men’s soccer including how long a women’s soccer game lasts.
Two Scenarios Where the Length of a Game Is Extended
As I’ve mentioned already, there are two situations where a college soccer game can last longer than 90 minutes.
- If the referee adds stoppage time onto the end of a half
- If the game ends in a tie and the teams play a period of overtime
Let’s look at both of these now.
Stoppage Time in College Soccer
At all levels of the game, soccer uses what is known as a “running clock”.
When a running clock is used it means that once a game begins the clock doesn’t stop again until the referee calls an end to the half.
For a more detailed explanation of this, check out my article – Why the Clock in Soccer Keeps Running and Never Stops.
The downside of timing a game this way is that a significant portion of time is lost every time the game is paused for an injury, substitution, or set piece.
It could also lead to players deliberately wasting time if that strategy worked in their favor.
To offset the lost playing time, the referee will keep track of the time lost, and add it onto the end of each half once 45 minutes is up.
This extra time, known as stoppage time, could be anything from 1 minute through to 10 minutes depending on what happened during the half.
An Example: To illustrate this, imagine play is stopped during the first half of a game because a player is injured. Due to the player receiving treatment, the game doesn’t restart again for 3 minutes. During this period, the timer continues to count up.
If the half ended once the timer had reached 45 minutes, those 3 minutes would have been lost. But to ensure the players are able to play for 45 minutes, the referee will add 3 minutes of stoppage time onto the end of the half before stopping the game.
Just remember at this point, although the clock may show 48 minutes, the players have only played for 45 of them.
The addition of stoppage time affects the length of a college soccer game.
Overtime in College Soccer
The second reason a college soccer game may run longer than the regulation 90 minutes is if the referee adds overtime onto the end of a game.
Overtime is added to a college soccer game when the game ends as a tie after 90 minutes of playing time.
College soccer overtime lasts for 20 minutes and consists of two 10-minute periods with a 2-minute break between them.
College soccer overtime rules state that:
- Two sudden-victory overtime periods of 10 minutes each shall be played
- A coin toss called by the visiting team will determine the choice of ends of the field or kickoff before the start of overtime
- Teams will change ends of the field at the start of the second period of overtime
- If the score is still tied at the end of the second period, the game will be recorded as a tie
- If the score is still tied at the end of the second period in a tournament game a penalty kick tiebreaker should be played to determine the winner of the game.
“Sudden victory overtime” means that if one team scores during overtime, then the game immediately ends and the team that scored is the winner of the game.
Using sudden victory overtime will significantly affect the length of a game if a team scores a goal. Overtime in college soccer can end up being 1 minute long or 20 minutes long.
The addition of overtime to a college soccer game will affect the length of a college soccer game by adding on an extra 20 minutes of playing time.
Find more out about overtime in my article – Overtime in Soccer: What is it and how does it work?
More Info About College Soccer
Understanding the timings of a college soccer game is just the start to enjoying this sport.
To find out more, check out one of my previous articles: