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Apr. 21, 2015 — Towards a women’s lacrosse superconference, Part 1

It’s the final week of the inaugural season of Big Ten women’s lacrosse. The league table looks a bit like a layer cake with two teams which will make the NCAA Division I tournament, two teams which will definitely not make the tournament, and two teams who could make the field with a good run in this championship.

And it turns out that the three games later this week will neatly yield the six seeds. The No. 1 seed is on the line Thursday night as Penn State and No. 1 Maryland square off. Ohio State and Northwestern will be playing for the third seed on the weekend, while Rutgers and Louisville are both trying to escape the league basement.

As well as the competition has been in the conference this season, it could be a lot better. I believe that a full lacrosse conference — with all 14 member schools competing — would create a tidal wave of playing and coaching talent flowing towards the Big Ten.

It should be simple; all of the schools have the infrastructure, as all 14 schools have a women’s soccer program and more than half have field hockey. I think, therefore, women’s lacrosse at Iowa, Michigan State, and Indiana should be a priority. A problem, however, will be weather. Scheduling February games at Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin is an exercise in foolhardiness without some kind of domed facility.

Returning to the competitiveness of the current Big Ten, you will often find that the level in a good conference is so high that you are guaranteed to see something in a game that you haven’t seen before. The incident becomes a talking point and (on occasion) becomes the basis for a rules change.

Thus far, in the Big Ten games I’ve seen thus far, there’s only been one incident that isn’t covered in the rulebook. It occurred in the opening minutes of the second half of the game between Northwestern and Maryland. After Northwestern attacker Shelby Fredricks scored the opener of the second half, the Maryland bench called for a stick check.

The umpire ruled the stick illegal, but the Northwestern bench protested that the mechanics of the inspection — specifically, the act of pressing the ball down into the shallow pocket of the stick — made the stick illegal.

I’m sure we’re going to see something unusual on Thursday as well.

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