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Greg Johnson | | June 4, 2015

Committee recommends possession clock

  If approved, rule would be effective in 2017 for DI and 2018 for Divisions II and III.

A visible 90-second possession clock could be coming to NCAA women’s lacrosse competition in the near future.

During their June 1-3 meeting in Indianapolis, the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee recommended adding a possession clock in the sport by the 2017 season in Division I, and by 2018 in Divisions II and III.

Committee members believe delaying the implementation of the possession clock is warranted because it provides schools time to budget for any financial implications. The committee recommended using two clocks, one on each end of the field. However, one clock located at the scorer’s table would also be allowed.

All rules proposals made by the committee must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss the women’s lacrosse recommendations on a July 16 conference call.

Under the 90-second possession clock proposal, the offensive team must register a shot within that window or the opposition will be awarded the ball at the spot on the field where it was when time expired.

The clock will be reset on a shot that is deflected by the goalkeeper or on a shot that hits the piping on the goal. The clock will reset on all changes of possession and when a defender receives a yellow or red card during the possession. The possession clock will keep counting down toward zero on shots that go wide or high of the goal.

The committee hopes the proposal, if approved, will limit the abuse of clock management and increase the pace of play.

“We have heard more and more comments and concerns about long possession times from all three divisions,” said Julie Myers, the committee chair and the women’s lacrosse coach at the University of Virginia. “Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the concern about the excessively long possessions that were taking place all over the field and throughout the course of our game.

“We, as a committee, felt that limiting the amount of overall possession time will encourage more urgency in transitioning into the offensive end, where the main objective should become scoring more efficiently rather than to hold possession of the ball.  We felt this would bring better balance to both sides of the ball and would keep the ball in play more consistently.”

The committee also recommended allowing players to do self-restarts following minor or major foul calls outside of the critical scoring area (defined as inside the 12-meter arc and the corresponding area behind the goal), beginning with the 2016 season. Players would still have the option of waiting for the penalty to be administered.

Players called for major fouls must stand at least 4 meters behind the player with the ball on a restart, and players called for minor fouls must stand at least 4 meters to the side of the player with the ball on restarts.

Again, the committee believes giving players the option of restarting play quickly can speed up the pace of play.

Stick checks
The committee recommended that officials conduct stick checks of every goal-scoring stick following each goal scored, beginning next season. This is currently a rule in international play.

Committee members also recommended more extensive stick checks before the start of the game, with officials examining  more than just the pocket depth.

Coaches will still maintain their three stick-check requests and will be allowed to use them before any draw (faceoff), during timeouts, at halftime and before the start of any overtime periods.

If a player is found to be using a stick that doesn’t meet the specifications (which are being further defined, standardized and clarified in the rules book), the player will be given a yellow card and must serve a two-minute, non-releasable penalty.

“What we’ve all learned over the last couple of years that sticks have changed and altered the game to the advantage of some and the detriment of others,” Myers said. “We want to standardize this part of the game and make it more fair and more about the skill rather than the stick or stringing in the stick.”

Alternating possession
Committee members also recommended that throw-ins following offsetting foul calls be eliminated from the game, starting in 2016. The committee proposed that an alternating possession rule take place in these scenarios. The first possession arrow will be determined at the coin toss, where the winning captains choose direction or possession.

Overtime change
In the event a game goes to overtime, the committee proposed a modification to make it a sudden-death format with the teams changing ends every three minutes. This proposal would be effective for the 2016 season.

In the current overtime format, the team that scores the most goals in two three-minute periods wins.

Three-second violation change
For 2016, the committee recommended that three-second violations be considered a minor foul.

If a defender is inside the 8-meter arc and not guarding anyone for three seconds, the offensive team is given possession of the ball at the 12-meter arc, where it can initiate an indirect play (pass to a teammate) on goal. 

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