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Archive for February 9, 2019

Feb. 9, 2019 — Making the adjustment

When the No. 2 women’s lacrosse team in the country makes a change in its home ground, it’s notable. And, frankly, worth an in-depth look as to why.

The University of Maryland opens its season today against George Mason in the cavernous confines of its football stadium. Capital One Field is carpeted with rubber-crumb infill, and the lacrosse goals are set 100 yards apart.

Compare that with Maryland’s usual home, The Lacrosse & Field Hockey Complex (yep, we call it that during the spring). It’s a bandbox of a field with the goals a mere 96 yards apart, and the competition surface is short-grain artificial turf.

This spring, that turf is scheduled to be replaced, which not only changes the spring plans for field hockey, but it gives the Maryland laxers the opportunity to play on a pitch with the exact dimensions of what will be played during the national semifinals and finals at Towson University, just up the road from the University of Maryland. Unitas Stadium, host of the Final Four, is also an artificial grass stadium, and the goals are 100 yards apart.

This isn’t the first time that a lacrosse team has changed its home field — either in mid-season, or to be better-prepared for the NCAA Tournament. I remember back in the winter of 2002, the NCAA website did not have any indication of exactly which venue at Princeton University would be hosting the Division I Tournament in the spring. It was only about seven weeks before the Final Four that it was determined that the expansive grass pitch at Princeton Stadium would host the championship, rather than the much smaller 1952 Stadium.

These days, with the rectangular hard boundary that has been in force for the last dozen or so years, the adjustments between different competition surfaces has not been as difficult in the past; there have been times when lacrosse teams have had to deal with football goalposts and pole-vault pits in the days without the hard boundary.

But Maryland’s change in their home ground is an intentional action, and the missing four yards in the midfield, I think, is going to make a difference in the way this team prepares and executes.