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Archive for May 14, 2017

May 14, 2017 — The game, unrecognizable

Bill Tierney, who brought Princeton and Denver University to NCAA championships and the United States to the FIL World Cup in 1998, always coached to his strengths and several principles. One of them: you don’t have to score more than 19 goals in a game.

But when you look at the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse bracket, you notice something which, admittedly, could be a result of the possession clock: a scoring bonanza.

This year, teams have exceeded the 20-goal barrier seven times. That’s nearly 39 percent of playoff games. The tournament is supposed to be a place where competition is supposed to be closer.

But as we wrote last fall about the fact that nine PIAA field hockey tournament matches went to the mercy rule in 2016 alone, it’s hard to know whether the fault lies in the possession clock, the rules written to favor the offense, or players who are coached to be relentless even in runaway games.

I think the possession clock does make a difference, especially for teams who try to blunt a faster team by holding onto the ball for minutes at a time. It has taken the late-game stall out of the game except for the last two minutes of play. I think it’s more than that, however.

The possession clock is the topper on several rules which have changed the game from a flowing game of speed into basketball on turf. Players who get the ball and take it to the goal without so much as a look at open teammates are no longer of value at the next level. As a result, the interpassing in the attack end is better than it has ever been.

And, I guess, with good team play, the goals are coming. It’s a new age.