1 year in, Division I coaches are second-guessing the addition of the crease dive

first_imgPrior to the 2019 season, Alberici would’ve been right. Cook’s goal would’ve been nullified when he landed in the crease, but a rule change supported by a majority of Division I coaches legalized the play this year. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe reincorporation of the crease dive into college lacrosse this season has caused ire among the coaches who initially supported it. In eliminating a rule designed to protect goalies, the rules committee also inadvertently created a massive grey area while trying to pare down subjectivity in the sport that added a shot clock in 2019. The crease dive has led to more controversy than highlight-reel plays. As it became clear coaches had soured on the rule change, The Daily Orange interviewed 16 Division I head coaches throughout the course of the season and found the changes led to frustration and confusion among players, referees and coaches. • • •Prior to 2019, the rules surrounding offensive players and the crease were clear-cut: At no point could an offensive player touch the crease and if at any point any part of an attack’s body touched the crease line or within, it was a violation and a turnover.But on May 27, 2017, nearly two decades after it was banned in the summer of 1998, momentum for bringing the dive back swung at the final four. With less than 1:30 to play in a national semifinal between Denver and Maryland, the Terrapins clung to a one-goal edge when Matt Rambo fed Colin Heacock, who flailed midair in front of cage and scored. The goal was disallowed when his right foot landed on the crease line.On the other end with 9.2 seconds remaining, the Pioneers thought they had tied it when Connor Donahue curled around his defender and scored, flying past the right side of the cage and landing in the back of the crease. A referee stormed into the crease and waved off the goal. Maryland went on to win. Facebook Twitter Google+ Army head coach Joe Alberici kept his face inches from a referee, berating him for what he called a poor explanation of “as obvious as a call I’ve ever seen missed on a lacrosse field.”Moments earlier, Syracuse attack Griffin Cook dodged from X, curled back to his left and stumbled toward the crease. Cook took flight parallel to the goal line and goalie AJ Barretto stepped up as defender Jordan Cole planted his stick across Cook’s left side. Officials rushed to the crease and ruled Cook’s midair attempt a good goal. When the explanation didn’t add up, Alberici lost it. “That’s a penalty,” Alberici said of Cook’s dive. “It’s obvious. You can go to the video and that’s a goal taken off and a man-up for us.” After the game, Denver coach Bill Tierney, who declined to comment for this story, called the rule “silly.” “To see young men work as hard as they do and make that kind of athletic effort and have some guy in stripes say, ‘No, no, no,’” Tierney said that day.In the year that followed, there was growing momentum to permit goals like the ones disallowed in 2017. Sacred Heart coach Jon Basti, a member of the rules committee, pushed heavily for the change. Basti referenced several instances where his own team was penalized for what he felt should be goals. Basti proposed the crease dive to the rules committee, he said, at first to mixed reception. Eventually, the committee came around to the notion that if the ball crosses the goal line before the player lands, the goal should count. Besides Basti, the other rules committee members either couldn’t be reached for or declined to comment. The new rule incorporates four concurrent factors: Whether or not the dive began outside the crease, the direction of the dive, if a push occurred and if there was contact with the ground and/or goalie before or after the ball crossed the goal line. If a player dives from outside the crease and away from the goalie and the ball crosses the goal line before they land, the goal should count. Any contact with the goalie before the ball crosses wipes the play. But an NCAA officiating crew of three has to absorb all that information and make a decision almost instantly.“The officials are put in a very, very difficult spot,” North Carolina head coach Joe Breschi said. “And at the end of the day, I don’t see how you can judge that while you’re looking at the guys’ feet who is diving.”National Intercollegiate Lacrosse Officials Association President Brian Abbott could not be reached for comment for this story. Amy | Nakamura | Co-Digital EditorCoaches understand the predicament the officials are in, but it doesn’t do anything to stymie their displeasure when a call goes against them. That’s why Alberici argued so fiercely earlier this season. Cook dove into Barretto, so he had to be going toward the goal mouth and should’ve been assessed a penalty, Alberici said. Therein lies the issue of the “goal mouth,” which the NCAA defines as “the area directly in front of the goal cage, including the goal line, where the goalkeeper is located and plays his position.” Coaches and officials have interpreted the goal mouth’s definition and location differently. Syracuse head coach John Desko alluded that anything across the face of the goal, similar to Cook’s dive, should be allowed. Alberici noted Cook dove into the “snowcone” — a triangle area between the goalposts and the top of the crease. None of this acknowledges that goalies move around. “Who cares where he dove from,” ESPN lacrosse analyst Paul Carcaterra said. “The rule is so ridiculous that if a player dove towards the goal mouth on an empty net with no goalie in cage, it’s a no goal. That’s how silly the rule is.”And still, officials haven’t established a consistent standard.“We’ve had a scenario where one of our kids dives in and it’s a goal and we watch it on film the next day and it’s like, ‘Oh my god, that was a terrible call,’” Navy head coach Rick Sowell said. “And then we’ve had situations where we thought a guy was diving away from the goal mouth and scored a goal, no contact, and we’ve been down a minute, non-releasable,” Sowell added.“I think it’s just too difficult of a call.”• • •Desko has been adamant that the rule won’t survive beyond two years. He hasn’t come up with answers for how to defend a player diving, and where you can and can’t dive to and from. Desko’s also still searching for a consistent standard from officiating crews. Others aren’t so certain of the rule’s demise. It’s unlikely the committee abandons a new rule so quickly. Instead, coaches predict there will be tweaks and refinements to the current interpretation, similar to the way college football’s targeting rule transformed in its early seasons. Desko himself once suggested limiting the origin of dives to behind the cage. Several coaches mentioned physically painting the “snowcone” on the field, however unlikely. Breschi acknowledged his pipe dream of expanding the crease.Amy | Nakamura | Co-Digital EditorInstant replay was suggested and even supported by coaches, but as the shot clock came to life and the substitution box shrunk — all in the name of speeding up the game — the idea of adding delays for replay wasn’t palatable. Carcaterra, who himself likes the dive but called the current situation a “hot mess” provided a simple solution: Allow all dives and only wave off goals if the offensive player initiates contact with the goalie. He contends that it answers the player safety question for goalies while eliminating the need to look at the direction of the dive and whether a push altered it. The referees just have to judge who initiated contact when it happens.“The ball crosses the plane before he lands in the crease and he makes no contact with the goalie, it should be a goal,” Carcaterra said. “It’s that simple.”Regardless of potential fixes, every coach seems to have a story about the play they couldn’t get a satisfactory answer to. Or the time they had a goal disallowed and went to the man-down. Or saw a play the next day and knew they got away with one. The only thing they know when it comes to crease dives is that they can’t be sure of anything.“I think the frustration’s lie in the fact that it’s so inconsistently called and discussed every time,” Breschi said. “It’s so hard to judge. What just happened? That’s the frustration.” Comments Published on May 25, 2019 at 10:27 am Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Grahamlast_img

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