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Archive for May 6, 2023

May 6, 2023 — Tipping the balance towards the offense

Last evening, the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team, the No. 1 team in all the land, beat Maryland 14-9 to win the Big Ten Conference automatic qualifier and likely the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament.

The margin of victory was five, but from hearing some of the commentary and reading articles about the game, the margin might have well been 10. Northwestern was dominant on the evening, especially its dual-pronged attack of Izzy Scane and Erin Coykendall.

And this was against a Maryland program which has graduated the likes of Brittany Poist, Alice Mercer, Julia Braig, Courtney Martinez, Tori Wellington and Iliana Sanza over the years.

Over the last 30 years, I think it has gotten more and more difficult for defenders to position themselves against more athletic attackers and to make a fair check in order to dislodge the ball.

Too, I think the American umpiring community is taking notes from the laissez-faire style of officiating as found in United Women’s Lacrosse, the WPLL, and Athletes Unlimited. You’re seeing a lot of players hit the ground in the pros, and that kind of rough play has flowed into the college game.

That all came to a head a few weeks ago when a Yale player was crosse-checked by a Stony Brook defender and had to go to the hospital because of blood loss from a lacerated kidney.

Since the injury, there has been a revision or two in some of the officiating rubrics to keep the game safe.

I think this weekend will be a great test of how well the umpiring is keeping up with ever more desperate defensive tactics.