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Archive for May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022 — #VARnow

In May 2016, Florida was eliminated from the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament despite seemingly scoring a goal in the final seconds of play. The goal, however, was not given despite video evidence to the contrary.

One year later, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins played a wild and rainy Big Ten Conference match which saw a late goal, possibly scored after the horn (which was the NCAA rule at the time), leading to a Wildcats overtime win.

Yesterday, Boston College forward Jenn Medjid hit the twine in a game against Denver. The umpires called a goal, although the ball was sitting on the back of the goal, with the shot having missed the frame.

These aren’t the only controversial calls which have happened in the last few years. But, even with the three-umpire system commonly used in college lacrosse, it’s become readily apparent that the game at its highest levels needs some form of a video assistant referee (or VAR).

I don’t think it should be the kind of “eye in the sky” supervision like it is in the National Hockey League, where a game can be stopped at any minute with a call from Toronto. I’m also not sold on the “umpire referral” system which is used in field hockey, where a game official can, at any time, review a play on video.

Instead, I think it should be a challenge system like it is in the NFL, where a coach can ask for one video review per half, and if the coach’s two challenges are upheld, the team gets a third challenge.

I think there should also be optional umpire referrals in the final two minutes of a half. But the referrals should only be limited to the following:

  1. Status of the ball (out of bounds, goal shots)
  2. Status of the clock (resetting of the possession clock, or the running of one clock and the stoppage of another)
  3. Review of certain fouls, including the “water polo” accumulation of fouls in the midfield leading to a green card

One limitation to this kind of review is judging stick checks inside the invisible sphere surrounding a player’s head. We’ve seen a number of missed calls over the years when it was somewhat obvious that a stick contacted a players’ head, but no sanction came of it.

I’m sure you can go to many reunions of college teams when this topic is discussed, especially when an opposing player, not having been called for a second yellow card during a game, scored the telling goal.

Given the number of sports these days which use video officiating these days, it’s mind-boggling that NCAA lacrosse is not on board.

It’s beyond past time for VAR in lacrosse, and it needs to be voted on and voted in without delay.