Officiating the crease is incredibly difficult for several reasons:
- The crease is the only area of the field marked as a circle.
- The goalkeeper has certain privileges while inside of the crease.
- There are several prohibitions that keep the offense out of the crease or from interfering with the goalkeeper.
- The crease is where the action is because it has that orange six by six goal inside of it.
Those reasons make crease calls some of the most important calls in the game, and the ones that get a lot of replay coverage during TV games.
Greg Hite, a fellow trainer in Atlanta, tells new youth and adult officials that it takes about three years of field experience to really understand the nuances of crease play and officiate the area correctly, and I agree with him completely. When I started officiating I had ten years of playing experience under my belt and I thought I knew the game. Well, I couldn’t officiate the crease to save my life until I got field reps. So much happens in a short period of time in a very small area that it takes time to process what is going on.
In this series Mark and I are covering different aspects of officiating the crease. He is taking most of the calls related to the goalkeeper, and I’m handling officiating the crease in common situations.
If you have questions about how officials watch the crease go ahead and put them in the comments section below.
How The Lead Official Sets Up
If you can tear your attention away from the game action look for the Lead Official.
He is always near Goal Line Extended and maneuvers in and out along GLE and towards the end line depending on how the play moves. Some officials like to set up one yard above or below GLE in order to see the goal line on close goal calls, which is impossible to see when standing even with the pipe.
Either way, the Lead Official should be near GLE in order to properly cover the crease for tight plays around it.
Crease violations are big calls, and they get even bigger when a goal is wiped off. In these situations the only person who can make a call on the crease is the properly positioned Lead Official.
To give you a handle on how difficult it is to call a crease violation that wipes off a goal the Lead Official must see and process:
- the goal
- goal line
- attacking player’s feet and body
- defending player’s body
- where the ball is throughout the entire play at the crease
All of this happens in less than a second, and the Lead Official must determine if a goal was scored or if it must be waved off depending on the sequence of what he sees.
Calling plays around the crease correctly are all about possession, location, and what the sequence is. The single most difficult call in lacrosse in my opinion is the close dive or push into the crease.
Here are the four most common situations that occur with legal and illegal pushes and how they are ruled in NFHS governed games:
- Offensive player catches ball near crease. While shooting the defender LEGALLY pushes the shooter into the crease before the ball crosses the goal line. No goal, crease violation, defense ball in alley.
- Offensive player catches ball near crease. While shooting the defender LEGALLY pushes the shooter into the crease, but the offensive player touches after the ball crosses the goal line. Goal is good, no crease violation, face off.
- Offensive player catches ball near crease. While shooting the defender ILLEGALLY pushes the shooter into the crease before the ball crosses the goal line. No goal, flag down, assess penalty, offense ball in alley for restart.
- Offensive player catches ball near crease. While shooting the defender ILLEGALLY pushes the shooter into the crease, but the offensive player touches in the crease after the ball crosses the goal line. Goal is good, wipe penalty if technical foul, face off. Assess penalty if personal foul, and follow with a man-down face off as it was a live ball foul.
Diving plays are a little bit easier as there is one call for the officials to make: Crease Violation.
If an offensive player dives and lands in the crease before or after the ball crosses the goal line then the goal should be wiped off and awarded to the defense at GLE outside the box.
Diving into the crease is illegal, but diving and landing outside the crease is legal.
If a dive is started at the correct angle it is possible for the offensive player to dive through the crease cylinder, shoot and score, and land outside the crease.
So long as no part of his body touches the crease and he makes no contact with the goalkeeper inside the crease, this would be a legal goal.
However, if he is diving and has the potential to land outside the crease, and then he is legally or illegally pushed into the crease the official must determine which of the push situations I listed earlier happened in order to make the correct call.
Making the Call
Crease calls are flat out difficult, and they get more difficult as the players get bigger, faster, and craftier around the crease.
As a ref and a sports fan I am going to disagree with some crease calls when watching a game from the stands. All anyone at a lacrosse game can ask for is that the officials make these calls decisively.
You and I may disagree with the call, but it’s tough to argue with an official who is right in position and shows confidence in making the hardest call in the game.
Next week, Mark will be breaking down the misconceptions and procedures surrounding the goal-crease privileges of the goaltender and plays involving the goalie near the crease.
Ask a Ref Mailbag
Our buddy James wrote in to ask:
What is the rule if the defending team commits a penalty at the end of regulation? Does the game end or is the offensive team awarded time to play out the penalty?
Great question. If a penalty is committed at the end of regulation or after time has expired, the penalty only carries over in to overtime.
If the buzzer to end the 4th quarter sounds simultaneous to the penalty occurring, or if there is a “flag down” and time expires before the whistle to stop play, the game is over if the score is not tied. The penalty is still to be relayed to the table for statistics purposes, but to answer the question, no time should be added back on the clock for this reason.
Note: An unsportsmanlike conduct or ejection at the end of regulation, or after the game, can result in further action from the league, but in no case would time be added for the other team.
Have a question for the Ask a Ref crew? Shoot us a note and we will try to help you out!