The start of the spring tournaments — the first to be conducted by the MIAA in nearly 15 months since the start of the pandemic — are roughly two weeks away, and the association’s tournament management committee still has a lot of work ahead to get an unprecedented postseason up and running.
While the TMC has approved almost all sport formats for the spring postseason, it voted, 10-3, to reject girls’ lacrosse during its virtual meeting Thursday. At issue is a game clock procedure resulting from the COVID-19 modifications for play this spring.
In a typical girls’ lacrosse game under National Federation of High Schools rules, the clock is stopped (aside from a timeout) only on a goal, or on any violation inside the final 2 minutes of each 25-minute half.
With the modifications splitting game play into four 12½-minute quarters, it has created a situation in which an 8-meter free position shot — normally subject to a clock stoppage at the end of halves — now must be attempted on a running clock at the end of the first and third quarters. According to Westborough athletic director Johanna DiCarlo, time could expire before an 8-meter shot can be attempted and an attacking team would lose possession, with the subsequent quarter beginning on a faceoff.
“We can’t play quarters in an MIAA tournament,” DiCarlo said.
Thursday’s vote sends the format back to the girls’ lacrosse committee, and potentially sports medicine committee, for reconsideration. Sports medicine previously opted not to make any changes to sport modifications, other than rules for mask-wearing, after updated guidance was issued by the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
DiCarlo passionately advocated for the temporary rule to be amended.
“I know we weren’t able to do that in some of our other sports,” she said. “We couldn’t do that in the fall. We had to play 7-on-7 field hockey because the science hadn’t changed. But the science is where it’s at now for us to make the right decision for the sport of women’s lacrosse, which is [to] give them their game back, because we’re not taking mask breaks.”
Added Hull AD Scott Paine, who also is South girls’ lacrosse tournament director: “That could have a significant impact on the outcome of many games. That has to be changed.”
Bridgewater-Raynham AD Dan Buron, one of three votes in favor of approving the format, didn’t agree with changing the rules in mid-season, even in what he called “a unique year.”
“I just think we should be consistent straight through,” he said.
▪ The TMC also looked ahead to the spring postseason with informal discussion for how to handle some of the unique challenges likely to be presented.
With the passing of Wednesday’s deadline for teams to opt into tournament play, MIAA assistant director Sherry Bryant said “there is definitely an appetite for participation,” and the largest current projected bracket would be 30 teams in Division 1 North softball.
TMC members agreed to establish a June 11 final cutoff for teams that may have missed the initial deadline, or to correct clerical errors. There also was discussion on what to do should teams choose to opt out of the tournament after initially committing to enter.
This year’s seeding meetings, set for June 16-17, could prove particularly challenging as baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, boys’ and girls’ tennis, boys’ volleyball and wrestling brackets will be drawn in that two-day window rather than a period of a couple of weeks. (Rugby previously received a waiver to begin its postseason earlier.)
With that, logistics need to be worked out for how to best handle the crunch of multiple seeding meetings, which most likely will be conducted virtually.
▪ The TMC approved the format for the wrestling dual meet tournament, including pre-match weigh-ins with an allowed 2-lb. weight allowance per athlete.
▪ MIAA liaison Caroline Bohmiller briefed the TMC on the tennis committee’s vote for a tiebreaker process should a match be tied 2-2 as a result of both teams not having enough participants to fill all three singles and two doubles slots.
In that event, the winner would be determined by: 1) most sets won; 2) most individual games won; and 3) 10-point super tiebreaker match between participants of whichever match was last to finish.
Jim Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.