They’ve taken away the two timeouts per team and made the game of field hockey four quarters.
Instead of two 30-minute halves, high school field hockey teams statewide will now play four 15-minute quarters.
With stoppages in play at the end of the first, second and third quarters, coaches will now have three “built- in” timeouts, thus their option for using the allotted two timeouts per game has been eliminated.
“It’s going to be good, college went to it a few years ago,” Mansfield High coach Theresa DeGirolamo said. “You can use those timeouts, but it’s still a quick game.”
High school field hockey matches will be played in four quarters instead of two halves beginning with the 2020 season. This significant change was recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations Field Hockey Rules Committee.
“I think the shift to quarters is going to be interesting,” said MIAA Associate Director and Chairperson of the Field Hockey Rules Committee Sherry Bryant, citing the change will “address health and safety of athletes provides consistent opportunity for coaching, all while enhancing the excitement and flow of the game.”
Previously under MIAA rules, each team was permitted two 90‐second timeouts per game. With the change to four quarters, teams will have guaranteed breaks for rest, hydration and coaching opportunities.
“It will break up the halves, but it takes away my timeouts,” Foxboro High field coach Melissa Bordieri noted. “For me, there are times during a match that I like to call a timeout. It will be interesting because I don’t have the ability now to call a time out. That’s the only downside that I can see.”
The rule changes eliminates the potential of four timeouts per game, two for each team. Often, those were for strategical purposes, for example when one team scored twice within a minute and the opposing coach needed to halt the flow of the play.
Cochran added that the rules committee adjusted team time‐outs in an effort to keep the game fluid with the guaranteed stoppage of play now between quarters.
“It definitely is a safety measure and with the change in the automatic re-start rule, you can run, run, run, go, go, go, so kids need a breather,” DeGirolamo said of having three breaks.
However, that will reduce the number of allowed timeouts called by coaches from four.
Teams will be allowed a two-minute timeout at the end of the first and third quarters and have a 10-minute halftime break.
“You can sub goalkeepers and get kids in and out of a game,” DeGirolamo said of the breaks at the end of the first and third quarters.
“Will it speed the game up? I don’t know. Halftimes were five minutes and now they will be 10 minutes.”
The Field Hockey Committee believes the implementation of four quarters “will allow teams to maximize their play for the entire match.”
Bordieri has watched four quarters of collegiate field hockey and said, “it works well, but I don’t get timeouts anymore. The timeouts won’t be the ones that we can take on our own.”
The MIAA Field Hockey Committee also proposed some sweeping changes for the 2021-23 seasons, reviewing the considerations to adopt a three- or four-division format for competition and postseason play.
Currently, Attleboro High, King Philip High, Mansfield High, Bishop Feehan High and North Attleboro High are all considered to be Division 1 schools for competition.
Under the proposal, Attleboro High, Bishop Feehan and King Philip would remain in Division 1 were a “three” or “four” division plan were to be implemented.
“It hasn’t been finalized, it will create more champions,” Attleboro High coach Lindsay Antunes said. “The change to halves is more dramatic. It will make the game feel different.”
“It’s good and I think at the beginning of the season, you have the different breaks (after the first three quarters) which will help when you play in the heat,” she added. “It’s healthier. It always seems that when we start the season, it’s incredibly hot and now we’re wearing masks. I’m curious to see how the match feels when we start.
Mansfield High would remain Division 1 under a three-division format, but be moved to Division 2 in a four-division format to be implemented.
North Attleboro High would move to Division 2 under both the “three” and “four” division format.
Foxboro High, Dighton-Rehoboth High and Seekonk High are all currently considered to be Division 2 schools for competition at present.
Foxboro High and Dighton-Rehoboth would remain in Division 2 in a three-division format, but move to Division 3 if a four-division format is implemented.
“For some schools in two divisions, maybe that made it harder for some schools to get to the finals,” Bordieri said of the proposal. “I don’t know if expanding the divisions levels it off. It does make sense, it levels the playing field a bit.”
Coach Kim Pellerin’s Seekonk High Warriors would move to Division 3 in the three-division format and to Division 4 in a four-division format.
“That’s another question that I don’t have the answer to,” DeGirolamo said of the proposed revisions and their effects upon the Hornets in post-season competition and the use of the MaxPreps organization to create a seeding formula.
Field hockey matches will still consist of 60 minutes of playing time. Similar concerns were fielded when basketball went from two 16-minute halves to four eight-minute quarters.
“It will be different, it will be something that we will all have to get used to,” Bordieri said. “In the end, I think that I’ll like it.”