TopOfTheCircle.com

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Feb. 14, 2015 — A very deep bench

In most field invasion sports, a coach picks a starting lineup to indicate to the team which group of players is the most likely to execute the game plan over the course of the game.

In soccer, you’re pretty much tied to that lineup, with only three substitutes in FIFA-sanctioned matches. In Test field hockey, you only have a maximum of five bench players that you can use when you want.

In women’s lacrosse, substitutions used to be relatively rare. That is, until more coaches started borrowing from the men’s game. With more male head and assistant coaches in the game, teams have started interchanging midfields and have started putting in specialists to not only take the draw, but to win the ground ball from that draw.

This year, Northwestern has played two games and won both. In each game, head coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller has been generous with her substitutes.

In the season-opener against USC, Northwestern used 12 bench players. Of course, a part of the reasoning is that the starting lineup didn’t get it done against Southern Cal, as Northwestern trailed 7-0 before roaring back to win 12-11. In a game held earlier today in Kennesaw, Ga., Northwestern used nine subs in a 6-5 win over Virginia.

I’ve always been a proponent for this kind of strategy because having an iron starting lineup without substitutions can lead to a tired team by the end of the season. In addition, a team sticking to the same players will often become predictable.

Something which can never be said of Northwestern, by the way.

 

 

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