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March 10, 2019 — The ragged edge of disaster, Part 2

For the second consecutive weekend, the Maryland women’s lacrosse team was taken into overtime by a Top 10 opponent.

Yesterday, it was Syracuse who battled and fought the Terrapins’ skilled attack before losing in double-overtime on a goal by junior Kali Hartshorn.

For all of Maryland’s championship heritage, the team has not found the going easy this season. And frankly, it shouldn’t, having graduated some of its all-time best players the last few seasons.

But with all of these close results the first three weeks of the 2019 season, a picture has emerged of the national Top 10, and we figured it would be just like it is now. Boston College as a clear No. 1, and throw a blanket over the next seven or eight teams because they are so equal.

Indeed, it is going to take increased emphasis on things like goalkeeping and draw controls to win close matches. But I’m also seeing a couple of new wrinkles when it comes to strategy with the new rules:

  1. Race to the endline. I’m seeing more and more defenses gaining possession off of opposing shots than ever before, whereas before, teammates could be counted on to back up an errant shot 95 times out of 100. Why is this? Free movement. Defenders can now slough back towards the endline to chase the ball and
  2. Set plays off the 8-meter. Also with free movement by the defense, you’re seeing shooters having to pull out of direct shot attempts because defenses now occupy the hashmarks immediately to the left and right of the attacker. And that’s what happened on the winning goal in the Maryland-Syracuse game; attacking midfielder Hannah Warther was on the right hashmark, but saw that Hartshorn was going to be wide open for a hi-lo pass, and the play worked.

I think these, along with the continuing epidemic of dangerous-shot cards, are going to be the trends to watch the rest of the year.

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