The lacrosse ball is placed horizontally between two sticks. The whistle blows, and the ball is flung from the draw circle into the air.
Senior defender and captain Kara Nakrasius secures the ball in her stick running at full speed. She sprints to open space to avoid defenders closing in on her. She makes a pass down the field and the offensive possession begins.
The Owls rotate who takes the draw controls each game — a strategic decision, coach Bonnie Rosen said.
Last season, Temple lost seven of the ten games in which it lost the draw battle.
Controlling possession makes it easier to win games, senior attacker Maddie Gebert said. Each draw is a new opportunity to take control of the game, Nakrasius added.
“In lacrosse, it’s a lot harder to get back possession,” Gebert said. “Once you have possession you kind of control the game.”
Gebert is a pivotal player on offense. She led the team with 40 goals and four assists and made The American Athletic Conference First Team in 2019. Gebert finished sixth on the team by winning 15 draw controls as a freshman and 12 as a sophomore.
Players in the draw circle have a good relationship, Nakrasius said.
“For the draw, it’s basically the grittiness and having trust in your draw taker,” Nakrasius added. “You have to be prepared beforehand. It takes a lot of extra work, and it’s important to get that good relationship with everyone else in the circle.”
In 2019, Nakrasius led the team with 68 draw controls, which is third-best in Owls history for a single season. She finished with four draw controls a game, which ranked fourth among all players in The American.
Different members of the team rotate practicing draws on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, sophomore attacker Wynston Archer said.
Archer played as a draw control specialist in 13 games last season. She won 20 draws, the fourth most of any player on the Owls in 2019.
“Becoming a great draw player is really about deciding you actually want to get good at something,” Rosen said. “It’s one of those things, if you put the time in, and you study your craft, you can get really good.”
In its first game of 2020, the Owls defeated George Washington University 17-8 and recorded 16 draw wins compared to the Colonials’ 11. In its second game of the season, Temple lost to Rutgers University 13-11 but won 14 draws compared to the Scarlet Knights’ 13.
Temple won 19 draws in its 16-14 loss to Princeton University on Saturday. The Tigers controlled 13. Overall, Temple has a 49-35 edge over its opponents through three games.
In those games, freshman midfielder Belle Mastropietro has 17 draw controls, and Nakrasius has 14. Junior midfielder Bridget Whitaker has 7. Last season, she was third on the team with 34 controls.
“Sometimes someone gets a better feel, it’s a better match-up against the player we’re going up against,” Rosen said. “It’s a little fun game of cat and mouse, figuring out what’s going to allow us to play our best game.”