The play got so rough in a high school boys’ lacrosse game between Hill-Murray and Simley on Thursday that one coach pulled his team off the field with about four minutes left and there was no postgame handshake.
The unusual conclusion came after two Hill-Murray players reportedly suffered concussions and another suffered a broken collar bone. Rough play went both ways. Simley was called for 11 penalties. Hill-Murray was called for 10, including five on one player. Each team had a player ejected.
The game, a 13-4 victory for Simley, is expected to be reviewed at the next meeting of athletic directors in the Metro East Conference, of which both teams are members. A report also will be filed with the Minnesota State High School League because of the ejections.
Pioneers players did not participate in the postgame handshake after coach Greg Visich pulled them off the field. Contacted Friday, Visich referred questions to Hill-Murray activities director Bill Lechner.
Lechner said Visich told him “the game got so rough and out of hand” that “playing the last four minutes and going through the handshake line would have been of no value.”
“When this starts happening, the referees and coaches should get together and get control of the game,” said Lechner, who also coaches the Pioneers’ traditionally strong boys’ hockey program. “I don’t know if that happened.”
Referees tried keeping the game under control, Lechner said he learned from Visich, but it’s not clear why their efforts failed.
Simley activities director Will Short, who also coaches the Spartans’ traditionally strong wrestling program, said, “We absolutely want kids to be safe. We preach playing hard and within the rules. Do I think kids and coaches on either side left the field feeling good about the game? No. And that’s a regret.”
The game was played at St. Thomas Academy, a neutral turf site. Simley (7-5) is a public school located in Inver Grove Heights. Hill-Murray (3-8) is a private school located in Maplewood.
“We’re still gathering information to find out if the referees or our coaches could have done more,” Lechner said. “And I think conference activities directors, we need to work together to make sure games are positive experiences for kids.” The next meeting of the group is June 1.
Kevin Merkle, associate director of the high school league, said a game report to the league is mandated when a player is ejected.
“Then we ask the schools to respond. And the schools might go back to the assigners of the officials,’’ said Merkle, who was not aware of what happened at the game. “If the schools ask, the league will look into it. But we typically don’t get involved in an official’s judgement calls.”
He added, “When play gets rough, everyone blames the officials. But they only have a piece. The coaches and the athletes also have a piece. An official can call penalties but if there is no adjustment to the play, there is only so much they can do.”