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May 31, 2021 — The one thing missing from NCAA lacrosse that so many other sports have

In yesterday’s NCAA championship final, there was a situation in which a player seemingly scored a goal while sprawling in front of the goal cage.

The umpires called a crease violation, despite the visual evidence that the Boston College player never touched the white line.

This call was one of a number of questionable decisions on the part of the four-part umpiring crew over the course of the weekend that has led to one unmistakeable conclusion.

And that conclusion is that field lacrosse in the NCAA needs a replay official.

I’ve called for a Video Assistant Referee in lacrosse for some time, especially after a phantom goal in a tournament game between Penn State and Florida a few years ago.

The environment in women’s lacrosse, frankly, has gotten away from the ability of even the most experienced eyes of umpires to be able to get every single thing right. Lacrosse umpires have to call boundary lines like a tennis official, call goals like a goal judge at an ice hockey rink, police body contact like a basketball referee, and keep control the game with penalty cards like a soccer referee.

It is a difficult job, one which has been made much more difficult in the free-movement era with the speed of the players as well as the speed of the ball. The exit velocity of an 8-meter shot from a Charlotte North, an Izzy Scane, or a Melissa Sconone are likely to be so quick that the ball could either go through a small hole in the back mesh, or bounce downward from the little teeth that are on the inside of the goal frame to secure the netting, or bounce straight down, land behind the goal, and come back into play.

It’s happened before; just review film of the 1966 FIFA World Cup final.

Now, when you think about it, there are so many pro sports out there that have a replay review component. There’s tackle football, rugby, field hockey, cricket, ice hockey, basketball, golf, and even motor racing. Mind you, the last two aren’t sports where the participants can ask for a replay review; the rules officials and race stewards have the authority to make an inquiry into an event which has happened already. In most others, either a captain, coach, or even an umpire can call for an official review to get it right.

Let’s see if the people who run lacrosse will have the courage and forethought to do the same.

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