Sports Commentary: Lacrosse for dummies

After officially being announced as the next varsity sport at St. Ambrose, the Men’s Lacrosse team will start competing next fall, but for some students the game of lacrosse may be a foreign language to them.

In Iowa, lacrosse is limited to few high schools and while more popular in Illinois, lacrosse is still only recognized by the Illinois High School Athletic Association as an “Emerging Sport” and therefore they do not recognize a state champion so to speak. This is for all of those, who like myself, didn’t know much about the sport until now. Let’s start with the basics.

The object of the game is much like any other sport, score the most goals. Timing is also similar to other sports. Lacrosse has been known to be played in 60 minutes, broken up into 15 minute quarters. The field is 110 yards long by 60 yards wide, nearly the same size as a soccer field. Each team plays 10 players on the field at all times, and can be broken down into four positions: the goalie, defenders, midfielders, and attackers.

The goalie must be coordinated and quick in their reflexes because of the possibility of a shot coming from any angle at any speed. Another critical role for the goalie is by setting up plays after a stopped shot and by communicating with the defense about the attack from the other team.

Defenders are restricted from moving past midfield, but expect them to be on the attack to prevent a goal. They are usually the only between the opposing team and your goalie. However, after a defensive stop, defenders can get the counter-attack going by passing upfield to the midfielders and attackers.

Midfielders are both offensive and defensive players and have free roam around the field. Much like a point guard in basketball, midfielders recognize situations on the field and make quick reactions. Setting up a score is another priority of these players who should be proficient in stick and passing skills.

Most scoring in lacrosse comes from the last set of players, attackers. Using a wide variety of moves and fakes, the attackers slash on the opponent’s side of the field on the attack to put in a goal.

The last thing for lacrosse newcomers to understand is the flow and progression of the game. Often fast-paced and physical, the game starts off every quarter and after every goal with a faceoff. Think of it exactly like hockey. Of course there are penalties as well such as offsides and rules regarding the circle surrounding the goalie called the goal crease.

While this only scratches the surface of things to learn about lacrosse, this should serve as a nice starting guide to cheering on the new St. Ambrose Men’s lacrosse team come the fall.

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