It's hard to imagine a more disappointing -- or unfortunate -- ending to a high-profile game than the one we got Friday at Susquehannock High School. In a boys' lacrosse season-opening showdown between Red Lion and Susquehannock -- the defending YAIAA Division I and II champions, respectively -- officials opted to end the game with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter because of excessive penalties. Technically, the game will go down as a Red Lion forfeit -- although Susquehannock was ahead 16-6 at the time the game was called. The Lions bench was visibly frustrated throughout a second half in which they were whistled for 11 penalties. Red Lion was hit with four unsportsmanlike conduct calls in the fourth quarter, and one Lions player was ejected from the game. At two points in the final period, Red Lion played four-men down because of penalties. The Lions played in man-down situations for almost the entire second half, as Susquehannock poured in 11 unanswered goals. Afterward, Red Lion coach Bill Simms let his frustrations with the officiating crew be known. After the jump, I've posted a transcript of both his and Susquehannock coach Russ LeBlanc's comments after the game. RED LION COACH BILL SIMMSOn whether he felt the penalties against his team were justified: Absolutely not. The officials came to us at halftime, me and Russ, and said 'We're going to tighten it up a little bit.' I have no problem with that, but you got to let them play. It was so biased to one side -- and I hate to say that about any game -- but it was so biased to one side that's it's very hard for me to take. I respect Russ and I respect the Warrior program. I just want a fairly officiated contest where I'm not two- and three-men down constantly. All it does is destroy the phyche of my seniors because it takes them out of their game. They start playing on pins and needles. They can't get into their comfort zone. They can't get into their groove of a normal playing style. We play physical lacrosse. And I understand the rule changes and I agree with them. But there's a fine line between enforcing those rules and clearly giving a team an advantage. On the snowball effect against his team in the fourth quarter: It's very hard to keep a team up when they're constantly getting kicked around by the officials. Every time a flag goes down, they're going 'Oh, what did we get called for now?' It completely takes them out of the game. On whether his team could have controlled its emotions better. Oh sure. I'm a very animated coach sometimes, and my players feed off of me. But I have some emotional kids that hate losing. I don't mind losing to a good team if they're better than us. And I think Susquehannock is on a par with us, but when the officiating completely controls the outcome of a game, it's unacceptable. SUSQUEHANNOCK COACH RUSS LeBLANCOn the game's premature ending: I guess the officials felt like the game shouldn't continue. I don't really want to comment a whole lot about that. I will say I'm proud of our guys for conducting themselves throughout the game. I felt like even before all the penalties occurred, it was a great contest. Before all the penalties, we were still ahead. It's two great programs, we got a history of great games. I know Red Lion is going to have a good season. They have a strong team. And after graduating as many kids as we did last year, this is a good point for us to start our season off and make a little bit of a statement, too. SUSQUEHANNOCK SENIOR JAMES WEGEROn his reaction to the game's ending: A little bit surprised. ... It's always great competition playing those guys. I just didn't think it would go that far. On the physical nature of games against Red Lion: Whenever we play Red Lion, it's always a physical game. We know there's going to be penalties on both sides. It's just rough play. Both teams like that, though. It gets us fired up. On defending Red Lion's Division I midfielder Branden Kessler: I felt like I was able to make him work. He's a great player, and I always like playing him. I've played him in past years.
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