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Archive for May 4, 2022

May 4, 2022 — The 12th woman

For all of time immemorial (well, at least until women’s rules were codified sometime around 1926), lacrosse has been a game of speed and skilled played with 11 field players and one goalie.

The goalie, in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, is a player whose job is to not only stop incoming shots at goal, but to direct the defense. Mobile and athletic goalies often act as a defensive sweeper (like in soccer) to catch errant passes, pounce on loose balls near the crease, and, in rare instances, body up on an opponent.

This year, that notion is under question in some circles. Syracuse head coach Kayla Treanor has been employing 12 outfielders and no goalie in draw-control situations late in games with the Orange trailing.

At first blush, it’s a strategy which should not work. A fully kitted goalie, with an oversized stick and a helmet, is the only person in women’s lacrosse to be in the goal crease to be able to stop a shot with her body. Any other player would run afoul of the rules if they stop a shot with the body while in the goal circle.

Further, a goalie, with a larger stick, should be able to intercept more loose passes by the opposing defense if the goalie is part of a 12-man defense (that is, leave the goal unguarded and try to make a play on the ball to get a turnover).

But last week, in a game played in the most competitive level of scholastic lacrosse in the U.S., a situation came up which required a look through the rulebook, leading to a highly unusual situation befitting the Sixth Law.

Baltimore Bryn Mawr (Md.), the oldest scholastic lacrosse program in America, was holding a 15-5 lead over Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.) when Mawrtians goalie J.J. Suriano was discovered to not be wearing thigh pads, a required piece of goalie equipment under NFHS rules.

There were no thigh pads handy, so Bryn Mawr played without a goalie — and with 12 field players — for more than 13 minutes in this pivotal league fixture. The winner of this game would have the upper hand to get the fourth seed in the IAAM postseason.

Bryn Mawr held on to win 17-11.

“It was not the way I anticipated the second half going,” Bryn Mawr coach Molly Wolf tells The Varsity Sports Network, “but I told them keep your composure, play our game, draw into everything, if we get the ball, we can handle it and pressure them outside so they can’t get a good shot off and they did just that.”

The goalie situation balanced out the fact that Spalding had its fourth team yellow card a mere five minutes beforehand, meaning that the Cavaliers were playing short for the rest of regulation.

Interestingly enough, these two teams meet again on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Flight “A” tournament.