With NCAA rule changes coming in the next two seasons designed to make the game more fast-paced, the lacrosse team is making adjustments to its gameplan.
Starting in the 2016 season, play will resume faster after minor or major fouls outside of the critical scoring area. After a foul, players can put the ball back into play by passing to a teammate or running with the ball without waiting for the referee.
The offending player would have to stand at least four meters behind or to the side of the ball handler on a restart depending on the referee’s instructions. Players retain the option of waiting for the penalty to be administered, rather than using a quick restart. Attackers can use the self restart to catch defenders off-guard.
“I won’t have the couple of seconds to get myself ready to get back on the girl,” senior defender Kara Stroup said. “I’ll just have to be ready in case she does go right away, and I’ll just have to get right back on her. … We have to be prepared faster and thinking and communicating quicker before anything else happens.”
This season, three-second violations, which occur when a defender is inside the 8-meter arc and not guarding anyone for three seconds, are minor fouls. The offensive team gets the ball at the 12-meter arc, where a scoring opportunity can be generated.
“Strategy-wise there may be some teams that are going to use it as a defensive tactic to prevent people from getting to goal and just take the foul a little bit,” 10-year coach Bonnie Rosen said. “So we’re going to offensively be able to find ways to score even when the spacing in tight is not as open as it should be.”
Another change makes playing defense with the stick held horizontally a major foul, forcing players to defend with a vertical or angled stick. The change impacts both defenders and attackers.
“Our attackers have to learn to play through no-calls when the other team might be using a horizontal stick illegally, and I think that’s going to be the challenge,” Rosen said. “While there are new rules being put in place, you still need officials to call teams on it.”
In practice, the Owls are placing an emphasis on ball movement and scoring more assisted goals because of the faster play. Temple averaged 2.44 assists per game last season, seventh out of eight teams in the Big East Conference.
The Owls saw the emphasis on assists translate to their five exhibition games during the fall.
“I’m really excited because in the fall we had so many assists and the game just moves faster when you’re passing and it looks so great when we have great ball movement and assists,” Stroup said. “I think that the emphasis on looking for your teammates in transition or cutting into the eight [meter arc] to score definitely opens up a lot more opportunities.”
Despite the implementation of more than ten rule changes for the upcoming season, Rosen anticipates minimal effect on the Owls’ play.
“But really the difference in our game this year is we’re more veteran, a lot more confident and sure with our stick skills, play with even greater determination,” Rosen said. “And I think in terms of style of play, I’d like to say that our offense will have a little bit more oomph with the amount of assisting that we’re hoping to be able to do.”
Evan Easterling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling