As a former college lacrosse official and as a high school officiating evaluator, I cringe every time I watch the replay of Virginia’s goal that sent their NCAA men’s quarterfinal game with Maryland to overtime Saturday.
The reverberations from the blown call are sure to continue to shake up the lacrosse officiating world for months to come and possibly usher in the first video-review system for televised NCAA lacrosse games.
I’m not about to blame Maryland’s 13-12 loss on the officiating. The Terps squandered a five-goal lead and shouldn’t have let the fourth quarter come down to a decisive play.
However, there was an egregious mishap in basic officiating that helped the Cavaliers slip into next weekend’s national semifinals in Philadelphia.
When you watch the replay of Virginia’s 12th goal, the ball clearly hits nothing other than the crossbar. The shot was hard enough to make the net shake and send the rebound all the way to midfield. The net movement caused the on-goal official to mistakenly signal a goal. He was signaling a goal at the same time the single-side official was giving a signal to reset the shot clock, meaning he clearly thought there was no goal. For a goal to be scored, the ball must completely pass beyond the plane of the two uprights. And on this shot, it did not.
In basic three-official mechanics, both officials closest to the goal are supposed to make eye contact and agree a goal has been scored before signaling a score. This clearly didn’t occur. One of the three officials Saturday should have recognized there was some indecision, brought the crew together and discussed whether there was a goal.
The goal of any officiating crew is to get it right, and on one of the sport’s biggest stages, this call was blatantly wrong.