By Greg Johnson
Looking to increase the pace of play in the sport, the Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee recommended a 30-second countdown for teams to take a shot after the referee has issued a stall warning.
All rules recommendations by the committee, which met Monday-Thursday in Indianapolis, must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to meet via conference call in September. If approved, the change would be effective for the 2013 season.
Under the proposal, when a team is given a stall warning, a shot must be taken within 30 seconds. The count will be administered by the on-field officials and there will not be a visible clock. A valid shot is defined as an attempt to score that is on goal (e.g., saved by the goalkeeper, hits the goal cage, goal scored). If the 30 seconds expires without a shot on goal, the ball will be awarded to the defensive team. The “get it in, keep it in” call has been removed.
The protocol referees will follow is below:
The committee also clarified that it is the responsibility of the team in possession to try to create a scoring opportunity. There are exceptions to this requirement: If the offensive team has the ball in the attack area and the defensive team is not playing the ball, a stall warning will not be issued until either (1) the defensive team attempts to play the ball or (2) the offensive team brings the ball outside the attack area.
However, a stall warning may be issued when the offensive team has the ball outside the attack area or below the goal line extended regardless of whether the defensive team is playing the ball.
The committee has several lengthy discussions regarding pace of play, which included adding a shot clock.
“We did put in some components of counting, but did not feel a mandated count on each possession was in the best interest of the college game,” said Jon Hind, chair of the committee and athletics director at Hamilton. “By creating this procedure, it puts a timing component into the game, but only when it is necessary.”
The committee also is proposing changes to the stick specifications that states any additional strings or laces (e.g., shooting strings) must be located within 3½ inches from the top of the crosse. Also, no more than one sidewall string on each side of the crosse will be allowed.
To ensure that all sticks meet these specifications the following three field tests will be performed by the officials.
If the stick fails any of these tests, it is an illegal crosse and a one-minute non-releasable foul will be enforced. The crosse won’t be used during play and will be kept at the scorer’s table until the conclusion of the game.
The committee felt players are currently able to maintain possession of the ball to easily despite being pressured by the defense.
“Players are going through the opposition and almost look invincible when carrying the ball,” Hind said. “There is a safety component to this, because it can lead to more physical play to dislodge the ball. It’s not that we don’t want a player to carry the ball, but we want him to move the ball too. We believe these changes will help dislodge the ball more appropriately, which will have a direct impact on pace of play.”
Another proposed change focuses on quicker restarts.
Officials are instructed to restart play quickly. If an opposing player is within five yards of the player that has been awarded the ball, the official will blow the whistle to start play. The opposing player is not allowed to defend the ball until he reaches a distance of five yards from the opponent. A violation will be a flag down for delay of game.
Officials are also instructed to get the ball in play quickly and not be as deliberate with the exact location of the violation. An unfair distance advantage gained by the team with the ball must occur to delay the restart.
“In looking at how we restart play currently we believe there is too much dead time and unneeded delay,” Hind said. “This is another way to keep the game moving.”
Additionally, the goalkeeper is no longer given a five-second grace period to return to the crease regardless of where the ball is restarted.
“We wanted to eliminate the grace period so the quick restart rule is consistent all over the field,” Hind said.
There is an exception to the quick restart rule when the offensive team is awarded the ball in the attack area. In these instances, play will be restarted anywhere outside of the attack area. The offensive team is responsible for moving the ball outside of the attack area for the restart.
The committee also made several recommendations in regards to faceoffs:
Also, as a point of emphasis officials are to enforce the rule that says players must keep their hands off of the plastic of the crosse. Players can gain an unfair advantage to gain possession of the ball if this is not called.
Finally, the committee considered moving the faceoff players from four inches to 12 inches apart. The committee ultimately decided, however, to experiment with this procedure this fall to see what the impact would be.
“The proposed changes to the faceoff are intended to enhance the procedure,” Hind said. “There was some support for moving the players further apart, but it hasn’t been used anywhere, so we’d like to have teams use it in the fall first.”