Yellow cards, shootouts, shoe chips among changes for fall sports

For Ridgefield High athletes and others across the state, the start of the fall sports season is approaching.

Football is the first sport to get underway officially, with conditioning drills beginning Aug. 19 and practices starting Aug. 24. According to Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rules, season-opening games can be played Sept. 12.

Boys and girls cross country teams can begin team practices on Aug. 22. Those sports have the earliest allowed starting date, with opening meets Sept. 5.

The remaining fall sports - boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, girls swimming, and field hockey — all begin official tryouts and practices on Aug. 29. The earliest allowed date for opening games and meets is Sept. 12.

A number of new rules and revised rules are among the changes that the CIAC has announced for the upcoming fall season. Among the highlights:

Boys and girls soccer: Beginning this year, yellow cards accumulated by players during the regular season will be wiped clean before the start of league postseason play. Individual card totals will then be cleared again before state tournament play begins.

An individual player would have to collect three yellow cards either during the regular season, the league postseason, or the state postseason to be required to sit out a subsequent game.

Football: The football committee approved a proposal from the Connecticut High School Coaches Association to reduce the amount of permitted contact in practice by 50% for the fall season.

In addition, the use of a “success in tournament” factor for schools of choice has completed its trial phase and will now be a part of divisional determination going forward.

Girls volleyball: For the second-consecutive year, the CIAC will be hosting a regular-season tournament event for Connecticut teams on Sept. 14. Also, teams are now permitted to schedule three tournament events as part of their schedule — an increase from the previously permitted two tournament dates.

Field hockey: The sport has approved changes to the overtime format for state tournament games prior to the finals. Overtime will now feature up to two 10-minute, seven-on-seven, sudden-death overtime sessions. Should no winner emerge from that period, a shoot-out has replaced penalty strokes to determine the winner.

Girls swimming and diving: The schedule for the State Open has been changed slightly for the 2019 season. The 2019 Open will take place on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m. at Kiphuth Pool at Yale University.

Boys and girls cross country: In addition to the bib numbers that have been used in the past at state championship meets, each team will be issued seven timing chips that will be placed on the left or right foot of each runner. The chip can be laced into the shoelaces or secured with the nylon ties provided.

At the conclusion of the race, coaches must retrieve the chips from their athletes and return them to the registration tent. Because of the switch to chip timing, there will be no more chutes at the finish line of races.