The National Federation of State High School Associations approved six rule changes to boys high school lacrosse at their July 18-20 Committee meeting in Indianapolis.
Among the changes, no defensive player, other than a properly equipped goalkeeper, can enter his own crease with the intent of blocking a shot or acting as a goalkeeper. If another defensive player enters the crease, officials will stop play as soon as they notice the situation; however, if a shot is already in flight when this is noticed, the shot will be allowed to come to its normal conclusion before the whistle blows to stop the play.
“I view it simply as an extension of the already existing rules regarding a non-goalie playing the ball in the crease,” Jamal Robertson, an assistant at Cranbrook School (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) said.
Will the rule affect some defenders as teams adjust?
“Should the goalie leave the cage, a pole would step in the cage knowing that offensive players are not trying to hit the goalie or another player who may be playing in the cage. They are trying to score a goal,” Centennial (Roswell, Ga.) head coach Bryan Wallace said. “I think it’s difficult to make a rule when the players are taught to stop the ball at any cost. I’m sure it will be tough to not have kids react to an open goal when the goalie leaves the cage.”
“I understand the rules and making the game safer,” Wallace added. “In my career of 25-plus years of lacrosse, I never knew the rule to keep players safer was not to allow them to do their jobs.”
Another change aimed at risk minimization, the failure of a player to wear the required mouthpiece now will be a technical foul (30-second penalty or change of possession) rather than a non-releasable foul.
“The hope with this rule change is better enforcement of proper mouthpiece usage, and to reduce the risk of injury,” said James Weaver, NFHS director of performing arts and sports and staff liaison for boys lacrosse, in the release announcing the changes.
The rules committee also made a change in Rule 6-10-3 regarding play in the last two minutes of a contest. Stalling rules now are in effect in the last two minutes only if the score differential is four goals or less.
Since ground anchors are not typically used on grass fields, the committee altered Rule 1-3-2a to allow, but not require, the use of ground anchors if a flat-iron goal is used on a grass field.
Rule 4-3-3 previously called for tape to be applied to the handle of the crosse for any player taking a faceoff. With new handle materials now available that are more durable than tape, the committee revised the rule to allow for use of new materials.
The final rules change addresses faceoffs. Previously, if a player or team committed a foul before or during any faceoff, the ball was awarded to the offended team in its offensive side of the field at the center. The rules committee removed “or during” from Rule 4-3-1 (Exception 2) in order to be consistent with Rule 4-4-2, which calls for a restart from “the spot where the ball was when play was suspended.”
The rules were made in an effort to minimize the risk of injury. The rules were announced on the NFHS website on Tuesday.
According to the 2015-16 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 109,522 boys participating in lacrosse in 2,752 high schools across the country.