The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference prides itself on playing the finest lacrosse in the country, and one of its priorities is preparing players for the next level.
With that in mind, the league followed the NCAA in adopting three new rules going into this season. What MIAA A fans will see this season is an 80-second shot clock, a new dive rule around the goal mouth and the reduction of the substitution box to 10 yards from 20. Once teams are acclimated, it should produce faster and more efficient play with the likelihood of more scoring.
“There’s a lot of great things about our league and one of the things is we always try to adopt what the NCAA does. I definitely think it gives our kids an advantage over kids that come from other places,” Calvert Hall coach Bryan Kelly said.
“Our kids are going to walk on campus and already have an understanding of how the game is played and the adjustments with subbing, the riding and clearing, so it’s nothing but a positive from that perspective.”
The addition of the 80-second shot clock is the rule that has received the most attention. It includes a 20-second clearing count during which players must advance the ball across the midfield line with at least 60 seconds left to avoid a violation and a turnover.
The first 20 seconds represent the biggest adjustment teams are focusing on most in practice.
“When we scrimmaged Landon, it seemed like that wasn’t an issue and we were getting the ball up and out pretty quickly. But it was the first week of practice and we didn’t spend much time on how do we ride and maybe slow down the other teams ability to clear and I’m sure Landon was thinking the same,” McDonogh coach Andy Hilgartner said.
“But as teams start to do that — especially when we get into conference play where teams are aggressively riding — being able to get the ball across the midline against some structured rides will be a challenge at times. You have to have really good stickwork and skills to be able to clear the ball in under 20 seconds on a consistent basis. So I think that will have an effect.”
In preparation of the season, MIAA coaches have reached out to college coaches and watched college games, along with practicing with a shot clock during drills to get the players acclimated.
So who benefits from the new rules?
“Players are going to have to win individual matchups, they’re going to have to play faster and they’re going to have to get in and out of your subbing game faster, get the ball out of your defensive end quicker,” Boys’ Latin coach Brian Farrell said. “So the guys who can catch and throw, the high IQ guys, the guys that are more athletic are certainly going to benefit, which is what you want to see.”
At the start of what turned out to be a storied All-America career at Johns Hopkins, Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala can relate to the difficult adjustments that are made transitioning from high school to college. The added competitiveness in today’s college game at all NCAA levels, and now needing to learn to play with new roles, significantly adds to the challenges.
“Is it the end of the world and does that mean a young man who hasn’t played within the rules can’t be successful? No, they can,” Pietramala said. “But I do think it adds to the adjustment from high school to college lacrosse and, from a coaching standpoint, it will make our job a little easier having guys arrive on campus having played these rules before. So high school and college lacrosse are such different games and the fact that the MIAA are playing with these college rules, I do think it provides the young men coming out of the conference with — I don’t want to say a giant advantage — but it better prepares them for what lies ahead.”
Calvert Hall All-Metro senior midfielder and Ohio State commit Grant Mitchell is appreciative of the MIAA for taking on the new rules to simulate the college game and has seen the Cardinals adapt well through preseason play.
“The MIAA by itself prepares you for college at a whole different level I think than any other league would and then with using the shot clock too, you get a sense of the pace and timing of things and stuff like that,’ he said.