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Archive for Lacrosse

Feb. 20, 2018 — Another shoe drops at Louisville

There have been a number of embarrassing episodes within the athletics department at the University of Louisville lately. There were months of rumors overhanging the women’s lacrosse team, culminating in an exodus of players and the replacement of the head coach.

But those headlines were absolutely trumped by the scandal surrounding the men’s basketball team. The program was embroiled in allegations regarding prostitution, sexual misconduct on the part of head coach Rick Pitino, and corrupt behavior by four assistant coaches.

Today, the NCAA came down hard, stripping Louisville of its 2013 national championship and 123 wins between 2011 and 2015.

But the vacating of wins, frankly, doesn’t mean much when it comes to the business of college sports these days.

Think of this: back in 1986, the second-place vote-getter in the Heisman Trophy was a tailback from Temple University named Paul Palmer. But you won’t find part of his official records: everything he did during the 1986 season was vacated because he was found in violation of NCAA rules for signing with a sports agent.

And yet, despite having a good chunk of his record vacated, Palmer was recently elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Makes you wonder whether the NCAA punishment will have any effect whatsoever on the behavior of the people who run college basketball.

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Feb. 18, 2018 — Gabbe the unflappable

A couple of years ago, as the winning streak of Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) headed into record territory and beyond, the single most unaffected person on the entire team with all of the attention — both good and bad — was goalie Gabbe Cadoux.

Cadoux, whether it was a good win, an historic win, or a too-close-for-comfort win, always had a positive demeanor and a smile on her face after every game.

It has served her pretty well as a player for Duke University. She wrested the starting job away from Jamie Lockwood last year, and has been the starter this year in the cage for the Blue Devils. Her capstone came today with a 9-8 win over a tough Northwestern outfit, with 10 saves on shots which came from difficult angles and speeds borne of the team’s athletic and unorthodox offense.

Even when Northwestern was on the attack in the final two minutes of play, Cadoux was able to raise her level of play to match the Wildcats. She made three stops in the final minutes of play to keep the Blue Devils in front.

“I was trying not to think about, ‘Oh, this could go in,’ or, ‘Oh, what if something goes wrong,’ because that’s how mistakes are made,” she said after the contest to the assembled media. “We just played how we knew how to play.”

For her, the game is just that simple. And, in a game which is rapidly evolving to a point where it could very well be overmanaged by coaches, this is a refreshing outlook.

Feb. 17, 2018 — Lacrosse substitutions gone amuck

Women’s lacrosse used to have an interesting forms of substitution in the pre-boundary era. A substitute used to have to report to the scorer’s table, then take the position of the substituted player in 10 seconds. The substituted player, if she was on the opposite side of the field as the scorer’s table, was allowed to exit the effective playing area and walk all the way around the perimeter of the field back to her bench area.

With a hard boundary also came a defined interchange box and free substitution, which could occur at any time, though it was sometimes interesting watching whether a whistle would interrupt a key substitution because the player coming off was a yard or so short of the sideline.

For the last few years or so, there have been a number of teams which have begun to use substitution more liberally, deepening the bench and keeping the starters fresh for the last 10 minutes of the game.

I haven’t yet seen the platoon substitution that the men use, when the same group of players are used in certain situations — man-down, man-up, draw control, etc. But I saw something in the Division II showdown between Florida Southern and Adelphi that I don’t think I have ever seen before. After one goal, I saw a couple of Florida Southern jerseys come off the field, then more, then even more. I think the final count was seven.

Now, I’m not exactly sure what the Southern coaching staff was doing at that juncture of the game, but I’m sure there had to have been something beyond normal coaching strategy behind a wholesale move.

Then again, it was over 80 degrees at gametime. And it worked for the Mocs as they won a 17-16 thriller over the Panthers.

BULLETIN: Feb. 15, 2018 — The FIL World Cup is coming to Maryland (again)

This morning, the International Lacrosse Federation (FIL) announced that the 2021 Women’s World Cup would be contested at Unitas Stadium on the campus of Towson University.

It is the sixth major FIL championship to be awarded to the United States since 1998, and the fifth to be awarded to the state of Maryland.

The first of these occurred in 1998 at Homewood Field in Baltimore, which hosted the eighth men’s world championship. The second and third were the 2003 U-19 Men’s and Women’s World Cups, which were held simultaneously at Unitas Stadium.

Two years later, the Women’s World Cup was held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. And like every senior women’s World Cup final, the host nation lost the gold-medal match.

With a bevy of talent available to the U.S. coaching staff for the 2021 title game, including a number of players honed by play in the two American professional leagues, the Americans should be a prohibitive favorite.

But a Canadian side led by Selena Lasota, Danita Stroup, and young talent like Aurora Cordingley may spring the same kind of surprise that they did when they were U-19s, winning the World Cup a couple of years ago.

Stay tuned and get your reservations ready for the summer of 2021.

Feb. 15, 2018 — Two out of three ain’t bad. Or is it?

This morning, I hit the TV button on the remote control, pointing it at the leftmost of the three monitors I keep attached to various devices in order to get my news and information.

There was no click in response, but there was one from the middlemost monitor, which sometimes activates when I aim the remote incorrectly.

“Uh-oh,” I thought. “Bad logic board.”

Since buying the monitor back about three years ago, I have changed boards once every 18 months or so. This will be the third change. Repair of digital TVs is remarkably simple; I did my brother’s TV a few years ago, and I have kept mine in working order with just a careful inventory of screws, a flick of my fingers on the connecting ribbon, and about 45 minutes of my time.

But until I get a new board (or actually take some time to figure out exactly what component keeps failing so that I might get something less faulty), I have to rely on my other monitors.

My rightmost monitor, which I attach to my laptop, can get many more video streams than it used to because news sources have figured out that getting their product out into the mainstream is better than hiding it behind a subscription wall.

The middle monitor has a Roku attached to it, which is an electronic device slightly larger than a deck of cards. It streams hundreds of video sources, everything from sports to horror movies. The Roku is where I will watch the majority of my field hockey and lacrosse during the NCAA season, so I’m not terribly worried about losing the left monitor for a few days.

So, why do I have three monitors? The same reason Lyndon Johnson had the same setup in his Oval Office: to see what was going on in the world.

Plus, these small flat-screen TVs are incredibly cheap compared to the luxury models that some people are getting for their houses. Some of them are pretty nice, but I don’t need that much screen size. I can only focus on a finite area at any one time, and I’d rather have a smaller screen so I can see everything.

Which makes it fun whenever there is an event like an Olympics, a World Cup, or your average weekend in NCAA lacrosse or field hockey. Having three games on simultaneously — in the same sport — is an experience not to be believed.

Feb. 13, 2018 — Another sorry episode

Yesterday, Dakota Harless, the director of a lacrosse program in Redmond, Ore. was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for engaging in sex with at least four players on his team.

The number of lacrosse coaches who have been brought up on morals charges has been been dwarfed by the number of teachers overall who have been arrested and charged with having sex with their students. It’s been incredibly rare in comparison to the number of figures in field hockey, but it’s still sad and shocking nonetheless.

But what is also shocking about this scenario is the light sentence Harless was given. He was originally charged with 22 counts including sodomy, rape, sexual abuse and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. The pool of identified victims were four young women age 14 to 16.

Given today’s current debate over sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the abuse of power by men in authority, I see this sentence as being extraordinarily lenient. I seriously hope that we don’t see this name back in the headlines again for the wrong reason.

Feb. 10, 2018 — Observations from a new era

I took in a women’s lacrosse game from a streaming service, but instead of worrying about winning and losing, I decided to look at it from an aesthetic viewpoint to see what the game looked like from a competitive and athletic viewpoint with the new rules in play.

Of course, I had a look at some of the new rules while observing United Women’s Lacrosse weekends. What a lot of fans are doing to have to get used to is the sight of players in motion throughout the entire 60 minutes, especially in the critical seconds when the ball is awarded to one team or the other and the self-start is executed.

In addition, you’re seeing a lot of jostling and planning on every free position opportunity on the 8-meter fan. The fan is not only cleared, but only a handful of players are allowed to be in the critical scoring area, which is delineated by the 12-meter arc and a box which is extended from the points of the arc to the end lines.

Defenders are limited to being on the hashmarks on the fan, and cannot be stationed on the legs of the fan that point towards the goal posts. Because the player taking an 8-meter shouldn’t have any problems getting off a clean shot, I believe that free-position percentages should go up. We’ll see how that stands up later this year.

Oddly enough, in the footage I watched, there weren’t any “look out!” moments when a player didn’t have her head on the proverbial swivel to see a defender attacking the ball, even with just a two-yard halo for a player who is fouled.

The game wound up being played almost entirely in the two attack ends of the field; the midfield was seemingly irrelevant since neither team attempted a ride. I wonder what is going to happen against teams which are skilled in the ride, such as Northwestern and The College of New Jersey.

The game was quick; so quick that I think there was only one shot-clock violation the entire game. Both teams went right at it and were not passive.

I’ll be interested to see what happens when tacticians try to take control of the pace of the game to give their teams the advantage.