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March 14, 2021 — Another segment of tape for the time capsule

With two minutes to go, things did not look good for the Syracuse women’s lacrosse team. The No. 2 team in the land looked to be a step slow on both ends of the pitch, picking up four yellow cards in less than 22 minutes against Top 5 Notre Dame.

The teams were playing their second game against each other in three days, and, as you might expect, Notre Dame had learned and adjusted from how it played in an 18-14 defeat. The Fighting Irish had a 7-2 lead heading into the final two minutes of the first half, but Syracuse had a performance for the ages to finish out the rest of the game. The Orange went on a 12-2 run in the next 17 minutes of play to run out 15-12 winners.

Syracuse did all of this without its talismanic scorer, Emily Hawryschuk, who has been lost for the season with a knee injury. Instead, the leader for Syracuse this afternoon is former U.S. U-19 World Cup winner Megan Carney, who had four goals on the afternoon. In addition, sisters Emma and Meghan Tyrrell had hat tricks.

Indeed, one thing pacing the Orange’s run was the fact that Notre Dame did not know who to double. Orange head coach Gary Gait was masterful in the use of his roster, bringing in nine players off his bench, and getting goals from the likes of Emily Ehle and Bianca Chevarie.

I’ve noticed over the years that Gait tends to carry a large roster. There was one time when he literally split his squad for a day-night doubleheader to open the season a few years ago. Syracuse, naturally, won both games, something that I don’t think we’ve ever seen in NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse history.

But today’s game validated the Hall-of-Famer’s personnel strategy. Oh, most definitely. The kinds of performances he has gotten from his players have been astounding, and it doesn’t matter whether his players come from historical lacrosse hotbeds or from places as far-flung as Kirkland, Wash. and McKinney, Tex.

Most impressive, indeed.

March 13, 2021 — What is the MIAA thinking?

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association announced rules and regulations regarding sports in the spring season, including some new — and troublesome — dictates regarding girls’ lacrosse.

Now, I recognize that the MIAA is given to going it alone in some rules, especially some really daft ones. In the mid-1990s, the public-school governing body mandated helmets for girls’ lacrosse players. For a time, field hockey players in Massachusetts could score from anywhere on the pitch instead of having to limit shot attempts to within 16 yards of goal.

In this, the COVID era, the Massachusetts rulesmakers showed how little they know about field hockey when they came up with their rules package. They mandated 7-on-7 field hockey for a full 60 minutes, without thinking about shortening the game or shortening the field to compensate. No other sport last fall — soccer, tennis, etc. — had reduced-side play to encourage social distancing.

In lacrosse, there’s an interesting change when it comes to the timing of the game. In a nod to some of the proposed Olympic rules, lacrosse in Massachusetts is being restructured to four 12 1/2-minute quarters rather than two 25-minute halves. This change, however, does not make epidemiological sense. The only reasons you would want to break up halves into quarters is to either limit team timeouts (the reason that field hockey has done this in the NCAA) or to add commercials (which is why FIH did the same).

In addition, there is a pretty harsh series of disciplinary rubrics. If a player steps in the direction of an umpire with the intent to dispute a call, that player is handed a yellow card. If a player comes within six feet of the umpire while dissenting, the player is red-carded and sent off. No other sport in the MIAA has this level of enforcement.

But the one galling regulation is this one:

To the extent possible, it is recommended that schools play only one opponent per week.

I call on the MIAA board and girls’ lacrosse committee to either alter, disavow, or repeal this sentence. It hearkens back to the first half of the 20th Century when it was openly questioned whether girls’ sports at the scholastic level would either change their gender or make them unsuitable to be good wives.

No other sport in Massachusetts has this recommendation. Indeed, as far as I know, no other state governing body has this kind of recommendation for any sport with the exception of football.

And frankly, no way this is going to happen. Today’s female lacrosse player often plays multiple games over the course of a summer day during a tournament, sometimes in 90-degree temperatures.

They can adapt. It’s time the MIAA does the same.

March 12, 2021 — Monthly lacrosse Statwatch for games played through March 11, 2021

Hi, everyone. It’s been a minute since we published a weekly Statwatch for girls’ lacrosse. And yeah, we’re a bit out of practice, especially since not everyone has started yet.

This list, of course, is skewed heavily towards the South, since some teams have been taking advantage of decent weather, starting as early as the first week of February. And we know that a number of teams are going to be missing from this, given what we’ve seen from teams like Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.), which has been playing brilliant lacrosse of late.

This compilation is from available sources, including MaxPreps.com, NJ Advance Media, The Harrisburg Patriot-News, The Providence Journal, The Albany Times-Union, Long Island Newsday, The Worcester Telegram, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, MassLive.com, the Denver Post, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Philly Lacrosse, MSG Varsity, the Ann-Arbor News, and The Washington Post.

I encourage you to keep convincing your teams, your schools, leagues, or state governing bodies to adopt the easy-to-use MaxPreps.com platform, and we encourage you to get your fellow teams to enter their information there as well as whichever is your local news site, so that we can aim for as complete a statistical picture of the country as possible.

INDIVIDUAL GOALS, SEASON
65 Alexis Harris, Winston-Salem Mount Tabor (N.C.)
61 Jordyn Case, Matthews Weddington (N.C.)
60 Kendal Williams, Matthews Weddington (N.C.)
56 Ava Spradley, Greensboro Northern Guilford (N.C.)
55 Kate DeMore, Waxhaw Marvin Ridge (N.C.)
55 Devyn Martinez, Greensboro Northwest Guilford (N.C.)
54 Cassidy Jones, Memphis White Station (Tenn.)
52 Ellie Rumbaugh, Hickory (N.C.)
51 Reese Walker, Fayetteville Terry Sanford (N.C.)
51 Chloe Norman, Land O’Lakes (Fla..)

INDIVIDUAL ASSISTS, SEASON
54 Emily Phillips, Wake Forest (N.C.)
54 Caroline Mullahy, Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.)
44 Jordyn Case, Matthews Weddington (N.C.)
44 Jenna Thompson, Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic
37 Devin Martines, Greensboro Northwest Guilford
34 Kate Maruza, Hampstead Topsail (N.C.)
33 Bella Mims, Clermont East Ridge (Fla.)
33 Kelsey McCormick, Newport Croatan (N.C.)
33 Kate DeMore, Waxhaw Marvin Ridge (N.C.)
31 Jaylee Ault, Altamonte Springs Lake Brandley (Fla.)

CONSECUTIVE WINS
45 Denver Colorado Academy (Colo.)
42 Versailles Woodford County (Ky.)

COACHING WINS
802 Kathy Jenkins, Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.)

March 10, 2021 — An astounding oversight

I’ve been looking over some parts of the social media universe when it comes to women’s lacrosse, and a lot of what people are talking about is the utter lack of production value offered to the average game streamed either on a school website or through a service such as ESPN Plus or BTN Plus.

Now, I’m used to some horrifically bad productions on the NFHS Network, with high schools relying on the balky video gimbal to follow a two-inch ball, nobody bothering to update the scoreboard or game clock, and not having any kind of commentary — or even ambient sound to pick up a public-address announcer.

But to have these kinds of broadcasts for games on paid streaming services? In comparison to men’s games, which almost invariably have someone to announce the game and follow the action, having nobody for the women’s games is, for me, unacceptable.

It got the attention of the most decorated NCAA women’s lacrosse player in history, the three-time Tewaaraton Trophy winner Taylor Cummings, who made this oversight an item in her weekly column for U.S. Lacrosse Magazine.

And I find it galling that these kinds of oversights are occurring even as ESPN announced today that it will be paying $2.8 billion for the rights to the National Hockey League.

Given what I’m seeing in the sports universe, I’m acutely aware of the degree to which many of these broadcasters have been overpaying for the rights to many events. ESPN, several years ago, dropped the rights to drag racing like a hot rock. Same with Turner with the European Champions League.

It makes me wonder if NBC Universal is looking to dump media rights (as well as the NBC Sports Network) because it has invested so much money in the NFL, golf, and the Olympics.

March 8, 2021 — Athletes Unlimited adds four power players to its lacrosse league

The usual way that sides are formed in the sports leagues in Athletes Unlimited is that captains are picked due to their statistical excellence during their previous game, then the captains select the teams for the next round of games.

Today, the upcoming Athletes Unlimited lacrosse league announced the signing of four players who are likely to vie for weekly captaincies because of their all-around excellence.

The players are three-time Tewaaraton Trophy-winner Taylor Cummings, and fellow U.S. national team members Kylie Ohlmiller, Marie McCool, and Maggie Bill.

These four players join the likes of Kenzie Kent, Michelle Tumolo, Sam Apuzzo, Kayla Treanor, Dempsey Arsenault, Katrina Dowd, and Kristen Carr on the league roster, which will be divided into four teams every week for the summer season. The league starts July 19 and runs through Aug. 22nd at sites yet to be determined.

Right now, 38 out of 56 players in AU have been identified. And I have a feeling there will be a flood of players coming into the league sometime after Memorial Day, with college seniors graduating. Plus, I think you’re going to see some folks coming in from the coaching ranks, such as Dana Dobbie, Kali Hartshorn, and Kristen Igoe.

It should be an interesting summer.

March 7, 2021 — More tape for the time capsule

Several years ago, I posited that a 30-minute segment of women’s lacrosse from the 2003 U-19 FIL Women’s World Cup belonged in the pantheon of play that belongs in a time capsule. That segment encapsulated the second half of the United States’ pool play match against Australia, and the first half of the final, where the States completely overwhelmed Australia, bossing the game from the draw circle to the creases and beyond.

Another segment I would have put in the “Best of Lacrosse” time capsule would be the second half of the 2000 NCAA Division I title match between Maryland and Princeton, when Jen Adams had six goals and four assists, all after the interval.

This past weekend, another segment of play occurred which could also serve as a model or example as to how good the game of lacrosse can be, and also belongs in some sort of time capsule at the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. That segment is the first 11 minutes of the second half of the ACC conference match between North Carolina and Boston College.

Let’s give you some context. The two sides, which have been ranked in the top four just about every year in the late 2010s, were trading goals in the first half, but UNC, leading 10-7 in the final two minutes of the second half, was issued a yellow card for a bad check. Boston College, which had scored a mere 13 seconds before the yellow card was issued, had a power play to end the first half, and could have changed the team talk if the Eagles converted the chance.

But the half ran out with no further goals scored, and, with the yellow-card suspension being split between halves, the center draw to start the second half would be critical to the end result.

As it happened, UNC won the opening draw of the second term, then ran out the penalty. Then, the Tar Heels ran out the game, scoring the next seven goals from all sorts of angles. Jamie Ortega, who may grade out as the greatest UNC player of all time, had a pair of goals in the onslaught. Tayler Warehime also had a pair of goals. Both had hat tricks in the game, which wound up being a 21-9 win.

Yeah, it can be said that lacrosse is a game of runs, and that a 7-0 run is your basic run-of-the-mill string of goals that doesn’t merit many plaudits. But given the leadup to this Top 10 matchup, and the fact that one or the other had made the national final for five years in a row, you would have expected a tight game.

But those 11 minutes of play for North Carolina not only set the tone for the game, but may have also done the same for the entire season.

March 6, 2021 — The Final Third, Lotus Flower Edition

Please join us at shortly before 11 a.m. Eastern time on our Facebook Live presence for lacrosse action from all three divisions of the NCAA as the season truly unfolds before our very eyes. Join us and give us a like and share, would you?

March 4, 2021 — The more things stay the same

Last night, there was a South Florida derby match as the girls’ lacrosse teams from Orlando Bishop Moore (Fla.) took on defending 2019 state champion Orlando Lake Highland Prep (Fla.).

Lake Highland Prep thought it might have had a dream start with a goal less than 30 seconds into the first half, but it was waved off. Bishop Moore took advantage and scored straightaway. The home crowd cheered; could the varsity do what the JV had done moments earlier in winning the preliminary match 8-7?

The Highlanders varsity, being a Chris Robinson-coached team, did what you might expect. It punched in goal after goal after goal on the way to winning the game 23-4.

This year’s Lake Highland Prep team is one which is bereft of the opportunity to match its skills with teams willing to come to Florida for spring-break lacrosse. There’s no Milton (Ga.) on the team’s list of fixtures, no teams from the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, and nobody from the usual group of top lacrosse programs outside of the Sunshine State.

That has not mattered. The first three games of the season, Lake Highland Prep outscored their opponents 72-1. And in the fourth game of the young season, the Highlanders took down Bradenton IMG Academy (Fla.), the superprep team from a school which is unashamedly athlete-focused. But LHP won this contest by a score of 18-5.

The regrettable thing about the 2021 girls’ scholastic lacrosse season is that we may never truly know how good this Lake Highland Prep side could be against the best of the best. But then again, they may be proving how good they are already with their results on the pitch.

Feb. 28, 2021 — The Final Third, Remix Edition

Please join us shortly before 2 p.m. Eastern time for whiparound coverage on what we call The Final Third. We may be found here; make sure you give us a like and share when you find us.

Today, in a year like no other, we’ll be doing something we’ve never done before: provide coverage of two different sports at the same time.

This could be real interesting or an absolute trainwreck. Join us, would you?

Feb. 24, 2021 — Californius interruptus

Yesterday, updated numbers were published by the California Department of Health, delineating the adjusted case rate for COVID-19 for the purpose of allowing many high-school sports to start as early as this Friday in the Golden State.

Not every county with a field hockey or lacrosse program made the cut, however. Chief amongst the counties that fell short is San Diego County, one of the great incubators of scholastic field hockey talent in America. The county had slightly more than 15 new cases for every 100,000 citizens, meaning that, while practices can continue, actual games cannot be played until Feb. 5th at the earliest.

Also falling short is Monterey County, which has a significant portion of the Pacific Coast Athletic League. Schools like Salinas (Calif.) and North Salinas (Calif.) are going to have to wait until the county’s adjusted rate goes below its current figure of 18.2 per 100,000.

Now, the failure of some counties to meet the standard is not going to affect girls’ lacrosse, yet. Games aren’t scheduled for California schools for several weeks yet, and the numbers are, thankfully, trending downward.

We’ll keep an eye on those metrics.