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Archive for November 19, 2018

Nov. 19, 2018 — The Sixth Law, revisited

In our list of field hockey laws that we occasionally add to and revise over the course of years, our Sixth Law has started to show itself a bit more at the scholastic level.

The Sixth Law of Field Hockey holds that, at the highest levels of the sport, you’re usually going to come across a situation you’ve never seen before, or one which isn’t normally covered in the rulebook.

And I’ve seen just about everything. I saw a match have to be delayed several minutes because a large motorized leaf-blower had to be brought in to clear off foliage from the wet turf.

Another time, I saw that the players were using a misshapen and defective field hockey ball for a good portion of the first half. Thankfully, the ball did not affect the outcome of the game, as it was replaced at the interval.

I’ve seen, more than once, umpires having to call for school or college security in the name of crowd control. I’ve seen lines having to be repainted, and once a goal cage having to be pretty much rebuilt.

I once saw a field hockey match between Old Dominion and Princeton back in the 1990s when the immortal Marina DiGiacomo scored on a backhand slice shot which was the first shot off a corner, and it hit the netting.

It caused an uproar before the umpires gave the goal, because the thought was that the shot was above the 18-inch goalboard, and the slice shot was not a flick or scoop, but the closest thing to a driven shot you could have on the backhand side.

I also remember a UNC-Maryland game sometime around 1999, and it was a confrontation between two teams when they were not only ACC rivals, but were in the Top 5 in the country.

Sometime during the game, a penalty stroke was called, and the designated stroke-taker came over to the sideline to grab another stick (presumably, one which would help make the stroke). The other coach objected, and the umpires pored over the rulebook for several minutes trying to find language in it that covered the situation.

It didn’t, and the stroke was taken and made.

I’ve usually saved this law as an almost exclusive property of the ACC, since their games have, over the years, been played at a higher level of skill and tactics from everyone else with the possible exceptions of Princeton and Old Dominion.

This year, there have been some unusual events when Voorhees Eastern (N.J.) and Summit Oak Knoll (N.J.) have played. When the teams met in the regular season, an umpire was injured in a fall, and a call had to go out to the chapter assignor for a replacement official. It’s only the second time I’ve ever seen a substitution for an umpire in a domestic field hockey match.

When the two sides met in the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions final last Friday, another unusual situation occurred, when the umpires handed out three penalty cards in the space of 29 seconds to Eastern, meaning that the Vikings would have only seven outfielders to go against Oak Knoll’s full side. Eastern survived that situation, held onto its one-goal lead, then got the late Danielle Mlkvy marker in the 56th minute for the 3-1 win.

It’s fitting that some of the weird instances and incidents that are a part of top-level matches are finding their way into the scholastic game; that tells you that the game is getting better as a product at the youth levels.