Marauders Can’t Stall Fate: Windham’s Team Speed Earns Top Seed
Hanover High girls lacrosse coach Chris Seibel, center, is read a portion of the rule book by referee Lyn Cusack during a delay in Saturday's game with visiting Windham. Jaguars coach Paul Cino, left, and referee Brad Ayers await the end of the conversation. Seibel and the Marauders were prevented from holding the ball indefinitely by the officials and lost the NHIAA Division II regular-season finale, 18-11.
Valley News — Tris Wykes
Hanover High defender Liesel Robbins, right, pressures Windham's Ali Connor during the teams' NHIAA Division II regular season finale Saturday. The Jaguars' 18-11 victory earned them the top seed in the upcoming playoffs and dropped Hanover to the No. 2 position.
Valley News — Tris Wykes
Hanover — During the second half of Saturday’s girls lacrosse game between Hanover High and visiting Windham, a small paper booklet lay open on a sideline bench, its pages occasionally flipping in the wind. The copy of the National High School Federation’s rulebook was opened to Appendix H, which is headlined “Lacrosse Code of Ethics.” But what those exactly comprise was the subject of heated debate during the visiting Jaguars’ 18-11 victory.
Hanover (15-3) entered the game atop the NHIAA Division II standings, narrowly ahead of second-place Windham (13-2), which won the teams’ first meeting of the season, 16-13, in southern New Hampshire. Saturday’s result, coming in the teams’ regular-season finale, allowed the Jaguars to leapfrog the Marauders and earn the No. 1 seed for the upcoming playoffs.
All clear-cut and simple, yes? Not so fast, said Hanover coach Chris Seibel, who played the game under protest after his attackers stood in place and held the ball for roughly four minutes late in the first half. Windham declined to press out on the hosts, knowing that would create openings in its defense. Time passed slowly. Windham fans began booing, and even a few Marauders backers were heard to groan and grumble.
Midway through the wait, referee Lyn Cusack called time and jogged over to confer with fellow zebra Brad Ayers. Windham coach Paul Cino shouted that Hanover was guilty of delay of game. Marauders coach Chris Seibel shrugged and countered that the tactic was well within the rules. Cusack and Ayers finished talking and restarted the game. Well, at least the clock.
Finally, with less than a minute remaining, Hanover kicked into gear and scored 12 seconds before intermission for a 6-6 tie. The Marauders won the ensuing draw and scored again with 1.9 seconds showing on the clock. The teams retreated for halftime huddles, but the coaches and referees engaged in five minutes of animated conversation, during which the rulebook’s pages were flipped by fingers, not the wind.
The officials told Seibel his team would be penalized if it stalled again. Seibel said he was then playing under protest. His grumpy demeanor devolved into sideline shouting, and Cusack eventually halted play again, this time to march over to the Hanover coach for a face-to-face rebuke.
By this point, however, Windham was making Hanover’s tactic moot. The Jaguars tied the game 13 seconds after halftime, then scored eight more goals for a 15-8 lead with 10 minutes to play.
“Let’s see ya stall now!” bellowed a visiting fan, prompting laughter from those around him in the stands.
Seibel was unapologetic after the game and said the officials’ barring of the stall forced his team to try to run and gun with the Jaguars, who won back-to-back Division III titles the past two years with a blistering attack. The Hanover coach was quick to tip his ball cap to Windham’s talent and superior execution. The second-year bench boss added that he also intended no disrespect to the officials, but protested to force the NHIAA to rule on whether the slowdown strategy is legal.
“Paul likes the game played fast, but if you play it that way, then your chances of winning aren’t good,” said Seibel, a friend of Cino’s who shared a shoulder hug with him after the game. Stalling “is a great strategy that works, but when the referees completely misinterpret the rules and say you can’t do that, it takes our strategy out of our hands.”
Cusack thumbed through the rulebook and pointed to rule 6, section 2, which she said allows a referee to penalize a team for “any type of behavior that appears to delay the game.” Seibel said he believes delay of game can occur only when a team or player is sluggish in restarting play after a whistle. Cino just shook his head.
“A stall like that, at that point of the game, it’s just not in the spirit of lacrosse,” he said. “It’s not a viable strategy. It’s called the fastest game on two feet for a reason.”
Seibel maintained his team violated neither a rule nor its spirit and said the Marauders stalled for six consecutive minutes against Bedford and also used the tactic briefly during the first meeting with Windham and against Bishop Guertin. He used the analogy of a boxer who dances out of range of an opponent’s fists.
“If I dodge the big punch and eventually win the fight, is that wrong?” he asked. “We were playing by the rules. If you want us and the ball, come out and get us.”
Responded Cino, before heading to the Jaguars’ bus: “I think it energized us. Look at the score.”
Hanover’s Rachel Boghosian said her team should be allowed to stall but that she didn’t think not being able to do so had much to do with Windham’s offensive explosion.
“It came down to basics,” said the senior, who’s headed to play at NCAA Division III Gettysburg (Pa.) College next season. “We weren’t catching passes, and we didn’t come up with ground balls, especially off the draw. We lost possession quickly, and Windham capitalized every time.”
Seibel said the NHIAA needs to rule before the upcoming playoffs as to whether stalling is legal. It’s done at the NCAA level, but Cino said he’s seen a move away from it by women’s college coaches, possibly because they don’t want to see a shot clock instituted, as was recently done in the men’s game.
“Is it against the spirt of the game? What does that even mean?” Seibel said. “I think it’s against the spirit of the game when you legislate against a strategy that we use successfully.”
Regardless, Boghosian said she and her teammates want another shot at the Jaguars, hopefully in the division title game.
“We have a lot to prove after today,” she said. “We’re a really strong team and I know we can show we’re better against them.”
Hanover was led by Hannah Seibel, who had four goals and an assist. Liesel Robbins had two goals, J.J. Daniell and Sophie Lubrano each had a goal and an assist, Molly Seibel and Evie Keating each had a goal and Boghosian had an assist. Marauders goaltender Emily Gougelet made three saves. Windham received six goals and two assists from Ali Connor and three goals and six assists from Melissa Cino, while goaltender Tori Cippoloni made 12 saves.
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3227.