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VHSL to make changes to boys lacrosse guidelines

VHSL to make changes to boys lacrosse guidelines

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Atlee midfielder Kevin Dunne is shown drawing against Douglas Freeman’s Brandon Smith in the 2018 boys Class 5, Region B lacrosse final. VHSL guidelines for the 2020-21 season banned faceoffs.

The Virginia High School League will make some changes to the guidelines for playing boys lacrosse during the pandemic.

The guidelines released earlier in November included no faceoffs for the 2020-21 season and made body contact illegal, adjustments that “altered the game in a negative way,” VHSL spokesman Mike McCall said in an email.

Instead of a faceoff, a coin toss determined which team got possession to start the game. After a team gave up a goal, it got the ball at midfield, with no player within 5 yards.

Body contact and body checks were not allowed, with violation a possession penalty. Only stick checks were permitted.

Quarters also were reduced from 12 minutes to 10 minutes.

Lacrosse coaches and officials weren’t happy with the guidelines and pushed back.

“Our concern was it fundamentally changes the game – how you play it, how you coach it, how you officiate it,” Douglas Freeman coach John Neal said. “If I put myself in an official’s shoes, and I’ve got to determine who initiates contact, that’s really tough.

“How do you coach and teach a defenseman how to drive somebody out without making contact? You’d end up with these high-scoring games because you’d basically have a free lane to the goal without anybody getting in your way.”

Having a great faceoff guy, Neal said, is a significant advantage because he can help his team basically play “make it, take it.”

“I understand what they were trying to do, but when you look across the recommendations that were made for each individual sport, it was just highly inconsistent,” Neal said. “Reducing the game time, taking the faceoffs away, no contact, but in football you can still block and tackle. You can wrestle basically as normal. Basketball’s basically the same without a jump ball. It didn’t really make a whole lot of sense.”

McCall said the adjustments should be coming soon. Lacrosse is scheduled to start in April.

tpearrell@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6965

Twitter: @timpearrelltd

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