From O.K. to P.K.

Large scale game of soccer sometimes diminished to one-on-one of penalty kicks.

Gunslingers settled disputes with a quick-draw at high noon.  Soccer has its own nerve-testing version:  the penalty kick.

''I felt a great deal of fear.''  Diego Maradona, the Argentine soccer great, said after scoring the decisive penalty kick to advance Argentina past Italy in the 1990 World Cup semifinals.

Hansen WoodruffThis “beautiful game “is played by a teams of 11, working together in an expansive space with goals on either end.  Team breakdown (on defense) or team precision (on offense) generally decides the outcome of a game.  

The PK (shorthand for Penalty Kick) settles inequality (illegal use of hands, a foul when the player has clear path to the goal) and establishes finality (soccer tournament games still tied after overtime sessions resort to a shoot-off to establish the winner).  The shooter places the ball 12 yards in front of the goal.  The goalkeeper stands on his line, the goal line, trying to formulate a plan:  guess, read, react, which one should I do? 

The vast war that is the game, settled by two individuals.

This past week the Syracuse men’s soccer team saw its fortunes hinge on the result of this soccer quick-draw: on Sept. 5, Orange senior midfielder Hansen Woodruff (left, Photo: Syracuse University Athletics) converted a penalty kick in the 60th minute of a 2-1 win over Cornell while two days later, Colgate returned the favor, topping SU on a penalty kick in the 94th minute.

Woodruff, converting his second career PK (the first came at Albany in 2007), moves fast, and picks his target late.

"Usually my approach is to go fast and try to see what the goalie does," Woodruff, sporting a shorter haircut and new number in 2009, said in The Daily Orange. "Wherever he moves, I try to kick it to the other side. I usually don't pick a side until the very last second."

Perhaps you remember France midfielder Zinedine Zidane striking a change up in the 2006 World Cup, using the fast-twitch movement of Portugal goalie to his benefit.

Halftime Snack was thrown into the same cauldron during a soccer match in Santos, Brazil during the summer of 2008.  Re-live our angst.

Hanson Woodruff (#10, abover) photo courtesy of


Well done Mr.Leach. Harry

Well done Mr.Leach. Harry

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