Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for June 10, 2017

June 10, 2017 — The UWLX-i-zation of the NCAA?

When Rosabella Sinclair modified men’s lacrosse to offer to her students at Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.) in 1926, she took what she had seen from the games she had witnessed.

At the time, field lacrosse had a rule which was pretty much not found anywhere else in any other game or pastime: when the whistle blew to stop play, people had to hold their positions on the field of play.

The “freeze tag” rule was eliminated in men’s lacrosse in the 1950s, and, if the NCAA has its way, it will disappear from women’s lacrosse forever perhaps as early as this fall. An NCAA Division I rules panel led by Jen Adams, the greatest female lacrosse player who ever lived, made the recommendation, and a handful of others, after a three-day meeting in Indianapolis this week.

Adams, the Loyola head coach, just happened to be one of the four head coaches last summer in the inaugural season of the United Women’s Lacrosse League, or UWLX. The league instituted the rule allowing free movement, and, despite a hiccup or two as players got used to the freedom, was received positively amongst the players.

Whereas the “freeze tag” rule allowed game officials the opportunity to create odd-man situations by putting a player four meters behind a fouled player, women’s lacrosse is taking a page from water polo. If, on any possession, an offensive team is fouled more than twice before making it into the attack zone (I’m thinking this means going inside the 35-yard restraining line rather than the 15-meter “critical scoring area”), the defense gets whistled for a green card and a one-minute power play is assessed.

The way that fouls inside the arc and fan will be administered will also change. Like a basketball free throw, players will have to alternate on the hash marks near the fouled player, who lines up on the hash nearest to where the foul occurred. But unlike in the UWLX, players won’t be permitted to occupy the area below the floating hashmarks and above the two dots where play restarts on fouls below the goal line. In the first year, you had defenders choking off the area where the crease met the 12-meter arc in hopes of assisting the goalkeeper.

The NCAA rules panel also decided to take a page from the National Federation of State High School Associations, and will now only allow six players (the centers and two wing players) to contest the draw, which will only increase the role of draw-takers like Olivia Jenner of Duke, Kali Hartshorn of Maryland, and Morgan Widner of Syracuse.

A second proposed rule partially borrows from the NFHS, in that the accumulation of team yellow cards will lead to a larger penalty. But instead of playing short the rest of the game after a fourth team yellow, the NCAA would make these fouls two-minute non-releasable penalties that must be served all the way through.

Another rules change which could get into a messy area of game play involves situations when shots on goal are waved off because of shooting space. Currently, play is blown dead if the umpire judges there to be a violation, which could occur in the act of shooting.

On numerous occasions over the last 20 years, your Founder has witnessed countless goals taken off the board and the players re-racked on the eight-meter for a free-position attempt. The goalie, having given up the goal previously, usually swallows up the follow-up attempt.

I think this rule change will lead to a couple of unintended consequences, not the least of which will involve players forcing shots they might not otherwise attempt.

These rules are scheduled to go to the Oversight Committee this summer and we could see them in college play during fall-ball.

Or, you could go out and see a UWLX match to see how variations of the rule are being implemented right now.