Sadly, Lacrosse Ruling Shows Winning Is The Only Thing

SIDELINES

May 01, 1991|By Pat O'Malley

Today, a girls lacrosse game that perhaps should not be played will be played between Southern of Harwood and host North County.

It's going to be played because county coordinator of physical education Paul Rusko is following the book to a T, and, in my opinion, using badjudgment and setting a dangerous precedent.

All season long Rusko has been on a sportsmanship kick and had a chance to show he means business by upholding a forfeit resulting from unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead, he has chosen to hide behind the rule book.

On April 3, Southern played at North County, and the referees awarded the game to North County after two ejections and Southern head coach Linda Kilpatrick refused to leave the field.

The officials' decision to forfeit the game has been overturned by Rusko, and it will be replayed in its entirety.

This case raises the question, iscounty policy subservient to state rules?

About 15 1/2 minutes into the original game with the score tied at two, a Southern player was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct. Upon her expulsion fromthe game, the player hurled her stick onto the nearby track, witnesses said.

"She really put on a show," said one witness about the player who was called for three consecutive flagrant violations within a couple of minutes.

Southern coach Linda Kilpatrick came onto thefield to voice her displeasure with officials Joan Downey and Duane Hart and was carded. The coach followed one of the refs to the scorer's table and continued the heated debate.

One thing led to another, and Kilpatrick was yellow-carded, which means you are outta here. But she refused to leave the field, said North County coach Tom Taylor. The referees had no choice but to call a forfeit.

Kilpatrick said, "I did not refuse to leave the field and was leaving the field when the game was forfeited. I was told to get off the field and startedwalking off, when she (official Joan Downey) said the game was forfeited and North County wins, 1-0."

The veteran Southern coach said she was surprised by Downey's decision, which she said "was done muchtoo quickly."

Kilpatrick said, "A forfeit should be a last resortfrom fear of safety for you or your team, and it's a judgment call, which can't beprotested."

Because there was an ejection, Downey was required to send a written report to Rusko's office, and she suggested that the game be replayed.

I question the turnaround by Downey, and it does give credence to Kilpatrick's claim that the forfeit might have been called too hastily.

If officials don't have the authority over a game, then who does?

No one respects Kilpatrick more than I do. I've said before that I think she is the finest women's coach this county has ever had, but that doesn't mean she can't make mistakes. We all make mistakes, and unfortunately when a coach makes a mistake sometimes the kids pay, too.

Take an ineligible player used because a coach didn't do all his homework in checking his records.The coach can be suspended, and the team forfeits games. It's cold and hard, but

that's life.

What's important here is that in the officials' opinion at the time of the incident, they had no choice but to call a forfeit.

That means nothing when the rule is preciselyinterpreted, and remember that Rusko, following the cue of the National Federation of High Schools, says, "Sportsmanship is our No. 1 priority."

So, sportsmanship should take precedence over the outcome of the game. Right?

Wrong!

"The referees cannot forfeit a girlslacrosse game, and according to the rules they can only suspend a game," said Rusko yesterday.

"In this instance, the refs misinterpreted the rule and did not make the right choice in forfeiting the game. I talked to the state rules interpreter (for girls lacrosse). It isa suspended game and has to be replayed."

Sue Diffenderffer, MarylandPublic Secondary Schools Athletic Association state rules interpreter for girls lacrosse, said, "Our officials do not have the authority to forfeit games, and replaying the game was up to Paul."

Why can't they forfeit games as they can in all other sports, especially for a sportsmanship problem?

"Well, an official could dislike someone and decide to forfeit a game," answered Diffenderffer.

Can you believe that?

Is that saying girls lacrosse officials have no integrity or practice revenge? If someone has that kind of an attitude, maybe they shouldn't be officiating.

And just maybe that's the reason the Anne Arundel Board of Girls Lacrosse Officials has a serious problem getting officials. Games have been postponed or canceled because the local board doesn't have the numbers to handle the workload.

But who would want to officiate under circumstances where you make a decision and it is not supported by your superiors?

Bonnie Lang,head of the local board of girls lacrosse officials, didn't return my phone calls yesterday.

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