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Archive for May 6, 2019

May 6, 2019 — On self-starts and mental errors

This site has seen a number of games late in the lacrosse season turn on the legality of a stick, a delay of game on a draw, a goalie being caught behind her net trying to get to a shot wide of the cage, and any number of calls being made by the table official rather than the three umpires on the pitch.

Yesterday, in the championship of the Northeast Conference, a game turned on the misunderstanding of the self-start rule.

Here is the situation: with 18.4 seconds remaining in the game, LeMoyne, the defending national champions in NCAA Division II, had scored to get within a goal of Merrimack.

LeMoyne won the next draw, whereupon the center for Merrimack was given a yellow card for a dangerous slash. There were about 14 seconds left as the Merrimack player trotted off the field to the penalty bench and the umpire recorded the penalty in her book. But before the umpire had a chance to restart play, LeMoyne made a long pass towards the attack end of the field.

The LeMoyne player had forgotten that, on the issuance of a yellow card, a self-start can’t happen until the umpire blows the whistle.

It was a mental error. And a turnover in favor of Merrimack. The Warriors never lost the ball the rest of the game, and the game was theirs.

The era of self-starts in both field hockey and women’s lacrosse has sped up the game and made for a more free-flowing style of play.

But, at a cost. I’ve seen a number of situations where players self-start when they aren’t supposed to (normally in the attacking quarter of the pitch). The violations have changed the flow of games, most often to the detriment of the team making the mistake. A couple of times, the turnovers have led to scoring chances if not goals.

Somehow, I get the feeling this is going to continue unless the self-start areas in both sports are clarified.