As the rules of women’s lacrosse have evolved to become more like the men’s game, so have the tactics.
This includes one of the wrinkles in the men’s game, the ride.
The ride is a team defense that applies pressure in the midfield in trying to cause the other team to turn the ball over and to not allow the opposition possession in the attacking third.
Most often, you can recognize a ride when the the team without the ball spreads its attack players and midfielders across the field between the two restraining lines — a human picket fence.
The players cover an area, collapsing on players when they run into an area with the ball. This zone defense attempts to force poor passes from the opposing defenders, most of whom aren’t trained to handle the ball. The ride also tries to force double-teams, using the sidelines as extra defenders. At the same time, the ball carriers try to force opponents into places they don’t want to be and can use the restraining lines to cause an offside call.
This kind of zone ride came into vogue once the hard boundary came into being in women’s lacrosse; this kind of ride would be nearly impossible with the game the way it used to be played, with an infinite sideline.
Ricky Fried was one of several proponent of the ride at Georgetown University, and certainly used it with his choice of fast and fit players from the U.S. training and selection camps. The American team played awesome defense throughout the tournament, but it wasn’t necessarily the goalkeeper and close defenders having to do very much.
Sure, Amber Falcone and Gina Oliver were allowed their time to show what they could do. But with the United States causing sometimes two dozen turnovers a game in the midfield, the American defense sometimes didn’t have a lot to do.
That’s because of an awesome U.S. midfield, which includes Ally Carey, Kelly Berger, Lindsay Munday, Caitlin McFadden, Kristin Igoe, Sarah Bullard, Sarah Albrecht, and two-time Tewaaraton Trophy holder Katie Schwartzmann. They controlled the center of the park, allowing the attack to get the goals.
This is a prime reason why the American side was so dominant.