ATLANTA — Kell and Blessed Trinity were scheduled to face off Saturday afternoon in the Class A-AAAAA girls lacrosse state championship game at Lakewood Stadium.
However, the game was ultimately postponed due to a variety of concerns with the setup of the equipment and the field itself.
Moments before the game’s scheduled 2 p.m. start, the referees noticed that the sides of the goals were bent and could not be used.
Denis Tallini, the Georgia High School Association’s administrator for lacrosse, said a second set of goals were brought in, but the nets on those goals were secured with zip ties and not the proper string, which then had to be purchased from a local sporting goods store.
Tallini said he did not know why the equipment was not inspected prior to arriving on site for Saturday’s game.
“I can’t answer that,” Tallini said. “The Atlanta Public Schools were in charge of making the original setup. I don’t know when they brought them in. Nonetheless, when we got here (Saturday), I didn’t have an opportunity to inspect them, and I’m not an official, so I wouldn’t know what was appropriate and what wasn’t. The officials got here and said ‘We’ve got a problem with these goals,’ and the coaches agreed to that.
“The original set of goals were brought in from another Atlanta school that plays lacrosse, and then we found that they were bent and that they were not appropriate, so we got another set. The second set was brought from Maynard Jackson, and those are the ones that we are working on now. We found out that they were using zip ties, and it wasn’t properly laced, and that needed to be done, so that’s what they’re working on now.”
As the goals were being fixed, another issue was discovered. The restraining line, a line that should go across the width of the field, was not properly painted on Lakewood’s artificial surface. It was only painted on the edge of both sidelines.
“They’re trying to make the goals into regulation goals, because they were not,” Blessed Trinity coach Liz McFarland said. “The field is not properly lined. The restraining line should be painted across the field.”
After the GHSA initially considered still playing the game as planned Saturday, it was ultimately determined that the game would be postponed and rescheduled for the upcoming week.
“With the kids having been out here for a couple of hours, it wasn’t the right thing to make them warm up and start from scratch, so we’ll let them play later,” Tallini said.
After a one-hour delay, Blessed Trinity won a coin flip for the opportunity to host the rescheduled championship game, but Kell coach Todd Utt said the athletic directors from both schools would meet with the GHSA to determine when and where the championship will be played — be it at Blessed Trinity or at a neutral site.
Utt expected that decision to be made today or early Monday.
“It’s a shame that it had to happen this way, but it was just the way it went down.” Utt said. “We’ll just regroup and be ready to go whenever the game will be decided to be played.”
The remaining games scheduled for Lakewood — Saturday’s Class A-AAAAA boys championship, and the girls and boys Class 6A-7A championships next Saturday — were to remain at the downtown stadium.
It marked the second time in just over a year that the GHSA has had issues with the proper setup for a state championship event.
In March 2016, the stanchions were not aligned properly for the 15 basketball state championship games at the Macon Coliseum. The GHSA apologized for the mistake, but it made no effort to remedy it, even though the problem was known midway through the tournament.