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Archive for April 3, 2021

April 3, 2021 — A game of runs, a season defined by runs

Lacrosse is a game which begins its action with a draw, a process designed to create a 50-50 ball in the midfield. As such lacrosse is very much a game of runs — phases of play where teams can score many consecutive goals.

In the last month, NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse has seen three of the most dominant phases of play we’ve seen in a third of a century observing the game.

On March 6, Boston College was playing even with a North Carolina team which was the consensus preseason No. 1 team. In the final 90 seconds of the first half, Charlotte North scored a goal to cut BC’s deficit to three. Seconds later, UNC got a penalty card and had to play short for two minutes.

Boston College did not score in the last minute of the first half, then lost the draw to open the second, which allowed UNC to bleed away the rest of the power play. North Carolina then went to work. In the first 11 minutes of the second half, the Tar Heels went on a 7-0 run that set off the running clock.

Last Monday, Northwestern played the second of a two-game series against the University of Maryland. The game came two days after Maryland yielded the most goals in a game since the varsity program began in 1974. Maryland, to its credit, made adjustments and played the Wildcats even in the first half.

Northwestern, however, scored a buzzer-beater to end the first half. The goal seemed to change both teams, because, over the next 15 minutes, the Wildcats scored 10 straight times. It was an 11-goal barrage which set off the running clock and led to an eventual 20-10 win.

Today, the ACC league match between Syracuse and North Carolina — a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game which had been anticipated for weeks — had a similar run. Though Syracuse had taken the initiative in the first few minutes of play, running out a 4-1 lead, North Carolina still had a senior-laden lineup supplemented by not only some otherworldly talented underclasswomen, but a defense which had to go against that offense every day in practice.

North Carolina, from the 20th minute to the 36th, outscored Syracuse 10-0. The Carolina defense held Syracuse to just two goals in the second half. That’s something which is completely unheard of in the possession-clock era of women’s lacrosse.

So, we’ve seen these three dominant runs — all amongst elite teams which were in the Top 15 of the national polls. These three runs rival what happened in the 2007 national semifinals when Virginia outscored Duke 10-0 to end the game. But remember: Duke was running a stall in the second half, taking the Blue Devils out of their rhythm. As a result, the perception was that the result was not a product of Virginia’s domination on the attack end, but more of Duke’s passivity.

What do you think about the three multi-goal runs in the NCAA in the last month? I have a Twitter poll up on this subject. If you’re on the microblogging site, feel free to add your two cents here.