How Long Does A College Soccer Game Last? (The Real Answer)

Jose "Jay" Carrillo

If you’re a new fan of college soccer tuning in to watch a championship game, or your child is going to play college game for the first time, you’re probably wondering how long does a college soccer game last? The length of a soccer game varies and the answer may surprise you!

A college soccer game is 90 minutes split into two 45-minute halves. Add 15 minutes for half-time and the bare minimum is 105 minutes. However, the actual total duration varies and is longer due to all the stoppages in play. On average, a college soccer game that doesn’t go into extra time generally lasts 120 minutes and in some cases more.

If a game is allowed to go into extra time or even results in a shootout, the game can last an additional time of 20 minutes or more. Note that in 2022, the NCAA made the decision to not extend games into extra time for regular season games. A regular season game that ends in a tie after 90 minutes of play, will end in a tie. This is different for postseason games.

So, if you’re looking to catch a college soccer game or a professional soccer game, be sure to set aside some time! That and pack a comfy seat pillow or bench seat, and don’t forget your water bottle . . .

I’ve also included typical game durations for professional, high school and youth soccer games below!

Stoppage Time Impact on College Soccer Game Durations

College soccer match lengths can vary based on a wide array of factors. Depending on the circumstances, there may be additional stoppage time added at the end of each half of play.

The most significant factor is the amount of time that is added on at the end of each half for stoppages. This is typically referred to as “stoppage time” and allows for things such as delays in play, substitutions or injuries. This is normally between 3 and 5 minutes but can be more or less depending on the officials, and how many stoppages there are in the half.

For this reason, a college soccer match could last up to 120 minutes or more with the minutes of stoppage time factored in.

Factors Influencing Collegiate Soccer Match Durations

The average duration time of a college soccer game is 120 minutes but there are a number of factors that can influence the duration in either direction. Stoppages of course are the biggest factor but there are definitely others.

Injuries

Injuries also play a big role in the length of a college soccer game. If there are multiple injuries, or if an injured player requires significant time to treat, this will add additional minutes onto the clock.

Strategy and Player Substitutions

Player substitutions will also affect the overall game duration. The greater the number of player substitutions, the longer the game. If a team is leading late in a game, they may be more likely to make substitutions to help preserve their lead. Conversely, if a team is trailing late in a game, they may be more likely to keep their best players on the field in an effort to score an equalizing goal.

Age, Experience and Competition Level

The age group and level of experience also play a factor. Typically, the more experienced and athletic the soccer player, the less prone to tiredness and substitutions. At the higher competition levels, less time is spent on substituting players.

Weather Conditions

Bad weather of course can cause significant delays to soccer game durations. At worst, game cancellations altogether. Most importantly, bad weather can cause injuries which aren’t good for the soccer players, but they also prolong games.

Divisional Play

Game times may vary between Division I, II and III games. Typically, Division III games are 20 minutes longer than Division I games.

League Rules

Of course league rules directly affect the game duration as well. In 2022 and beyond, the new NCAA board rules will shorten some of the regular season games. It is left to be seen if postseason games will be affected one way or another. The point here also being that different rules apply based on the league you’re in.

Referees

At the end of the day, referees can also affect the game duration. They are the ones blowing the whistle at the end of the halves at their discretion. In addition, if the referees call a lot of fouls, this can also prolong a soccer game. Referees can also put in place overtime extensions but are less common.

Fouls

If there are a lot of fouls during the game, the games will be prolonged because referees typically blow the whistle and stop game play. Fouls occur when one of the players tries to injure another player on purpose, or one player interferes with another in the middle of play.

VAR (Video Assistance Referee)

Instant replays or video reviews of plays and fouls can definitely prolong the game duration. This is more and more common as we now have the technology to be able to do this. On top of this, referees have made controversial calls in the past and allowing video reviews may help to ensure critical calls are made correctly.

Style of Play

Last but not least, the style of play can also influence game time. If both teams are content in sitting back and defending most of the game, this will most likely lead to a longer game than if both teams are trying to score goals and push forward on the offensive attack.

Overtime Impact on College Soccer Game Durations

In 2022, major changes were made to the overtime rules for men’s and women’s college soccer games. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Playing Rules Oversight Panel made an important decision in April of 2022 which will affect regular season and postseason soccer games.

Regular Season

For college soccer games in the regular season, if a a game is tied after the 90 minutes of regulation time, then the game will result in a tie.

Prior to this, two 10-minute overtime periods were played. The first team to score would win the game. This was called sudden-victory or the golden goal rule format (some refer to it as the knockout round or sudden death). If neither team scored, the game would end in a tie.

Postseason

The current NCAA rules for postseason or conference tournament matches are such that sudden-victory has been eliminated. Instead, two 10-minute periods will be played. Interestingly, when the winning team makes a substitution within the last 5 minutes of the second overtime period, the game will be stopped.

If at the end of overtime, the game is still tied, a penalty shootout shall declare the winning team.

College Soccer Game Duration Comparison to Youth, High School and Professional Soccer Leagues

The variation isn’t that great unless you look at all the youth leagues at about age 14 to 16, and under. Once you go above 16, the game times are very similar to college soccer games. Note that they will vary based on the association or league rules for extra time, competition rules, group stage or youth soccer leagues.

The following shows the breakdown of all the differences for the different age and competition levels in the United States but very well may vary for the rest of the world:

Youth

6U-8U = (4) 10-minute quarters and no overtime

10U = (2) 25-minute halves and no overtime

12U = (2) 30-minute halves and (2) 10-minute halves in overtime

14U = (2) 35-minute halves and (2) 10-minute halves in overtime

16U = (2) 40-minute halves and (2) 15-minute halves in overtime

19U = (2) 45-minute halves and (2) 15-minute halves in overtime

Middle School

Regular = (2) 30 or 35-minute halves with a 5 or 10-minute break

Tournament = (2) 20 or 25-minute halves with a 5-minute break OR (2) 35-minute halves with a 10-minute break

Notice that middle school soccer games follow the 12U and 14U rules closely.

High School (Boys)

Regular = (2) 40-minute halves and a 10-minute break

Tournament = same

The only difference is the overtime rules. For regular season games, there is no overtime. For tournament games, penalty kicks are the tie-breaker.

High School (Girls)

Regular = (2) 40-minute halves or (4) 20-minute quarters and a 10-minute break

Tournament = same

The only difference is the overtime rules. For regular season games, there is no overtime. For tournament games, penalty kicks are the tie-breaker.

Professional (Men and Women)

Regular = (2) 45-minute halves with a 15-minute break

Cup or Tournament = same

Extra or Overtime = (2) 15-minute halves with a 1-minute break

The break between regular time and extra time is 5 minutes. Regular matches that go into overtime typically last on average around 150 minutes. If matches go into a penalty shootout, then matches last 172 minutes on average.

Soccer Game Duration Impact on Players

College soccer game durations can vary greatly depending on the conference, level of play and time of year.

The important thing to remember is that a player’s physiology doesn’t change based on the game duration. They still need to be able to run for long periods of time, have a high level of endurance and exhibit excellent recovery times. Therefore, it’s important for coaches to consider how different game durations might impact their players during practice, and throughout the season.

On the other hand, if a team is used to playing 60-minute games but has several 90-minute games scheduled during the season, they’ll need to work on their endurance during training so that they can maintain their level of play for the entire game. The soccer players will need to be able to run for longer periods of time without tiring in order to be successful in the longer games.

This is also a factor when the soccer season transitions from the regular season to the postseason or tournament play. That’s because postseason and tournament games are typically longer.

As teams transition from one age bracket to another and games get longer, endurance is typically the primary focus for the coach. Otherwise, the team won’t be able to compete in the new bracket.

Ultimately, it is up to the coach to decide how best to prepare their team for the different games they will play during the entire soccer season.

Editor’s Thoughts and Final Words

I hope that you can now easily answer the question, how long does a college soccer game last?

Not only for college, but other age groups and competition levels as well. So when you’re watching your favorite team play, not only pay attention to the score, but also how much time is left on the clock!

Overall, if you’re like me, we tune in to watch a soccer match because we love the game and the action. As long as the game is exciting, we’ll watch for as long as it takes to see the final score and end of the game.

My love of soccer started during the 1994 Fifa World Cup and has continued until today. I used to love waking up in the morning and going to my child’s high school soccer game with my thermos full of coffee. I could sit there all day, no matter how long the game was.

Nowadays, soccer still holds a special place in my heart. It takes me back when my child was just a young kid and learning all about the wonderful game of soccer. Looking back, I was more concerned about the game ending because I didn’t want it to end . . .

FAQ’s

How do College Soccer Game Durations Compare to Other Sports?

While the length of a college soccer game may seem longer than other sports, it’s actually on par with the game lengths of other sports such as basketball and hockey. A college soccer game is split into two 45-minute halves with a 15-minute halftime break and lasts a total of 120 minutes normally.

Even though football is split into quarters, the overall game length is very close to soccer. Other sports such as baseball, tennis or boxing will vary greatly. At least for now, you’re an expert on the soccer question, how long does a college soccer game last?

How do College Soccer Game Durations Impact the Fans and Sport?

The length of a college soccer game can have a significant impact on the outcome of the match. As far as the impact to the sport or its fan base, I don’t think there is that big of an impact. Fans tune in to watch their favorite team or perhaps watch games live to see their friends and loved ones on the field. Overall game duration isn’t as big of a factor.

At least in this instance we can throw out the question, how long does a college soccer game last, because a true soccer fan is only concerned about their team winning!