During the first several weeks of play this season there have been comments & concerns regarding “pick plays” and “screening tactics”. The comments we’ve received have come from both the offensive & defensive sides of the ball.
The rulebook was edited last season to include new wording regarding Illegal Offensive Screening (page 55). The wording was added due to the increasing number of offensive plays, in recent years, where “picks & screens” are being set for the player in possession of the ball. Players inside stick skills have also increased tremendously, making inside feeds to the crease area an integral part of offenses in today’s modern game.
This offensive tactic was used less often in prior years.
In addition, attack players are cutting to the ball & then setting up closer to the crease line (facing the goal & with their back to the defender) if they don’t receive an immediate pass.
This type of offense has led to a number of plays, in all games, where offensive & defensive players are bumping into each other (either accidently or on purpose) very close to the crease line, causing crease violations & potential interference calls possible.
We’re asking officials to be aware, as the ball rotates around, and visual responsibilities switch, that this area needs to be closely monitored by the lead & single side officials. The Trail official can also help in this regard if the play is in a settled situation. Fouls on both sides of the ball can occur quickly & need to be called.
Please review and cover this coverage in your pregame meetings, as well as reviewing Rule 6-5 on page 55, particularly the wording in letter “b”:
“The screener shall stay within his vertical plane with a stance no wider than shoulder width apart and shall not lean into the path of an opponent or extend his hips into that path, even though the feet are stationary.”
Lastly, we’d like to remind officials of this year’s NCAA Video and the comments regarding defensive players going through an offensive player’s screen. Be aware of high or unnecessary hits from defensive players as they attempt to cover their man while getting through the pick.
As stated above, these plays are more prevalent & an important part of men’s lacrosse. We owe it to the players & coaches to do our best at officiating them to our best ability.
Tom Abbott NCAA Officials Rep and Warren Kimber NCAA Officiating Coordinator