Marquette Women's Lacrosse 101

Dec. 16, 2010

Women's lacrosse will become Marquette’s eighth women’s varsity sport when it begins competition in 2013 before becoming a full member of the BIG EAST conference in 2014.

Over the last decade the sport of lacrosse has seen exponential growth among all age groups, especially at the collegiate level, where the sport experienced the second-largest rate of growth among all NCAA sports. Membership in the Wisconsin chapter of US Lacrosse has grown by over 300 percent in the last five years, with 2,679 current members of the local chapter. In 2005 there were 836 members in the state of Wisconsin.

The sport itself is the oldest in North America and was played by Native Americans prior to the arrival of European settlers. It was first documented in what is now southeast Ontario, Canada by Jesuit missionary Jean de Brebeuf in 1636 and the first set of playing rules was finalized by Canadian dentist Dr. W. George Beers in 1867. The women's game was first played in 1890 in Scotland and to this day remains true to the game's original rules. 
(More on the History of Lacrosse)

Competitive Information
NCAA Homepage | NCAA Rules of the Game | US Lacrosse Homepage 
Season Length: February-May (17 dates of competition)
Game length: 60 minutes (Two 30 minute halves)
Average Roster Size: 25.5
Starters (12): 5 Attackers, 6 Defenders, 1 Goalie
Teams use netted sticks to carry, throw and shoot a ball along a field in an effort to score goals. A goal counts as one point and is scored when the ball completely crosses the opposing goal line between the posts and under the crossbar. The team scoring the greater number of goals in the allotted time wins the game.

Equipment Required: Crosse (stick), solid rubber ball, gloves, mouthpiece, protective eyewear

BIG EAST Conference Quick Facts
BIG EAST Homepage | Women's Media Guide | Final 2010 Notes (PDF)
First year sponsored by BIG EAST: 2001
NCAA Runners-up: 2
NCAA Final Four: 13
NCAA Championship Appearances: 41 
Participating Institutions (9): Connecticut, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Syracuse, Villanova, Loyola (Md.)
* Numbers listed are totals for all member programs

The BIG EAST began sponsoring women's lacrosse in 2001 and has earned 23 bids to the NCAA Championship. Last season, three league teams were selected for NCAA play (Georgetown, Notre Dame and Syracuse) with the Orange advancing to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship. In fact, three BIG EAST teams have been selected for the 16-team NCAA Championship in each of the last three years.

The BIG EAST began its women's lacrosse tournament in May of 2007. Syracuse won the first two league tournament titles in 2007 and 2008, while Notre Dame won in 2009. Georgetown captured the 2010 tournament crown. The top four teams in the regular-season standings qualify for the championship.

Over the past five years, four teams have been added to the league, Cincinnati, Louisville, Loyola (Md.) and Villanova. Loyola joined as an associate member in 2006, while Cincinnati and Louisville were added in 2009. Villanova aligned with the league in 2010.

In 10 years of existence, the BIG EAST has seen six teams (Georgetown in 2001, 2002 and 2004; Notre Dame in 2006; Syracuse in 2008 and 2010) advance to the final four of the NCAA Championship. Two played for the national championship (Georgetown in 2001 and 2002). Georgetown's Erin Elbe won the Tewaaraton Award as the nation's top collegiate player in 2002.

NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Quick Facts
Participating Institutions: 91
Tournament Format: 16-team, single-elimination  

Teams in located in Wis., Ill., Ind., Mich., and Minn.:
3 (Notre Dame, Detroit Mercy and Northwestern)

Women’s Lacrosse Among All NCAA Sports
Growth Rates among NCAA Sports (10 yrs.): No. 2, 49.8 percent 
Graduation Success Rate (2009): No. 2, 94 percent


WOMEN'S LACROSSE RULES (Courtesy of US Lacrosse):

Women's lacrosse is a non-contact game played by 12 players: a goalkeeper, five attackers and six defenders. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals wins.

Women's lacrosse begins with a draw, which is taken by the center position. The ball is placed between two horizontally held crosses (sticks) at the center of the field. At the sound of the whistle, the ball is flung into the air as the crosses are pulled up and away. A draw is used to start each half and after each goal, and it takes place at the center of the field.

The collegiate game is 60 minutes long, each half being 30 minutes. In both collegiate and high school play, teams are allowed one timeout per half.

There are visual guidelines on the side of the field that are in place to provide a consistent indicator to the officials of what is considered the playing field. The minimum dimensions for a field is 120 yards by 70 yards. Additional markings on the field include a restraining line located 30 yards from each goal line, which creates an area where only a maximum of seven offensive players and eight defensive players (including the goalkeeper) are allowed; a 12-meter fan, which officials use to position players after fouls; and an arc in front of each goal, considered the critical scoring area, where defenders must be at least within a stick's-length of their attacker.

The boundaries are determined by the natural restrictions of the field. An area of 120 yards by 70 yards is desirable.

When a whistle blows, all players must stop in place. When a ball is ruled out of play, the player closest to the ball gets possession when play is resumed. Loss of possession may occur if a player deliberately runs or throws the ball out of play.

Rough checks, and contact to the body with the crosse or body, are not allowed.

Field players may pass, catch or run with the ball in their crosse. A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent's crosse with a check. A check is a controlled tap with a crosse on an opponent's crosse in an attempt to knock the ball free. The player must be one step in front of her opponent in order to check. No player may reach across an opponent's body to check the handle of a crosse when she is even with or behind that opponent. A player may not protect the ball in her crosse by cradling so close to her body or face so as to make a legal, safe check impossible for the opponent. All legal checks must be directed away from a seven-inch sphere or "bubble" around the head of the player. No player is allowed to touch the ball with her hands except the goalkeeper when she is within the goal circle. A change of possession may occur if a player gains a distinct advantage by playing the ball off her body.

Fouls are categorized as major or minor, and the penalty for fouls is a "free position." For major fouls, the offending player is placed four meters behind the player taking the free position. For a minor foul, the offending player is placed four meters off, in the direction from which she approached her opponent before committing the foul, and play is resumed. When a minor foul is committed in the critical scoring area, the player with the ball has an indirect free position, in which case the player must pass first.

A slow whistle occurs when the offense has entered the critical scoring area and the defense has committed a major foul. A flag is thrown but no whistle is sounded so that the offense has an opportunity to score a goal. A whistle is blown when a goal is scored or the scoring opportunity is over. An immediate whistle is blown when a major foul, obstruction or shooting space occurs, which jeopardizes the safety of a player.


First Home:
The first home's responsibility is to score. Located in front of the goal, the first home must continually cut toward the goal for a shot, or cut away from the goal to make room for another player. She should have excellent stickwork. 

Second Home:
The second home is considered the playmaker. She should be able to shoot well from every angle and distance from the goal. 

Third Home:
The third home's responsibility is to transition the ball from defense to attack. She should be able to feet the ball to other players and fill in wing areas. 

Attack Wings:
The wings are responsible for transitioning the ball from defense to attack. Wings should have speed and endurance and be ready to receive the ball from the defense and run or pass the ball. 

The point's responsibility is to mark first home. She should be able to stick check, body check and look to intercept the ball. 

The coverpoint's responsibility is to mark second home. She should be able to receive clears, run fast and have good footwork. 

Third Man:
The third man's responsibility is to mark the third home. She should be able to intercept passes, clear the ball, run fast and have good footwork.

The center's responsibility is to control the draw and play both defense and attack. She should have speed and endurance. 

Defense Wings:
The wings are responsible for marking the attack wings and bringing the ball into the attack area.  

The goalie's responsibility is to protect the goal and stop the opposing team from scoring. A good goalie also leads the defense by reading the situation and directing the defensemen to react. A good goalie should have excellent hand/eye coordination and a strong voice. Quickness, agility, confidence and the ability to concentrate are also essential. Each team has one goalie in the goal during play. 


BLOCKING takes place when a player moves into the path of a player with the ball without giving that player a chance to stop or change direction causing contact. When a player is running to receive the ball, a “blind side” defense player must give her enough time and/or space to change her direction.

BODY CHECKING is a technique whereby a defender moves with an opponent without body contact occurring, following each movement of the opponent’s body and crosse with her body and causing her to slow down, change direction, or pass off.

CHARGING takes place when the player with the ball pushes into, shoulders, or backs into and makes bodily contact with her opponent who has already established her position (though not necessarily stationary).

CHECKING is an attempt to dislodge the ball from an opponent's crosse by using controlled crosse to crosse contact.

CLEAR is any action taken by a player within the goal circle to pass or carry the ball out of the goal circle.

CLEAR SPACE indicates the space between players which is free of crosses or any parts of the body.

COACHING AREA is the area on the bench/table side of the field extending from the substitution area to their end line, and behind the level of the scorer’s table extended.

CRITICAL SCORING AREA indicates an area at the end of the field where the attacking team is shooting for goal. Its boundaries are approximately 15m (16.3 yds) in front of the goal circle, to 9m (10 yds) behind the goal line extended and 15m (16.3 yds) to each side of the goal circle. No extra lines will be marked on the field and this will be called in the judgment of the umpire.

DEPUTY is a player on the defensive goalkeeper’s team who may only enter or remain in the goal circle when her team is in possession of the ball and the goalkeeper is out of the goal circle.

DIRECTLY BEHIND THE GOAL CIRCLE is the area between two lines extending perpendicular and back from the goal lines extended, tangent to the goal circle.

8 METER ARC is the area in front of each goal circle inscribed by 2 lines drawn at 45 degree angles extending from the intersection of the goal circle and the goal line (extended); connected by an arc marked 8 meters from the goal circle.

FIELD PLAYER is any player other than the goalkeeper. It is a defense or attack player whose primary responsibility encompasses an area outside the goal circle and to whom no special privileges have been awarded according to the rules.

FREE SPACE TO GOAL is a path to goal within the critical scoring area as defined by two lines extending from the ball to the outside of the goal circle. No defense player will be penalized if positioned below the extension of the goal line.

GREEN CARD is presented to the captain indicating a team caution for delay of game and that the next team offense results in a green/yellow card to the offending player.

GROUNDED refers to any part of the goalkeeper’s (or her deputy’s) body touching the ground outside the goal circle while she attempts to play the ball from inside the goal circle.

INDIRECT FREE POSITION is the penalty awarded for a minor field foul by the defense inside the 12 meter fan. The player taking the free position may run or pass but may not shoot until another player has played the ball.

LOWER SIDE OF CROSSE refers to the wood on a wooden crosse and to the right side of a plastic crosse as one looks at the crosse with the pocket facing the player.

MARKING is guarding an opponent within a stick’s length.

OFFSIDE refers to a team with more players over the restraining line than is allowed by the rules.

PENALTY LANE is the path to the goal that is cleared when a free position is awarded to the attacking team inside the critical scoring area in an area in front of the goal line. The path is defined by the imaginary parallel lines that extend from the width of the goal circle. All other players must clear this lane when a free position is awarded in front of the goal.

PICK is a technique in which a player without the ball, who by her positioning, forces the opponent to take another route. To be legal it must be set within the visual field of the opponent allowing enough time and space to stop or change direction.

PLAYED refers to an action whereby the ball leaves the player’s crosse and is touched by another player, or her crosse is checked crosse to crosse by an opposing player. The ball does not have to be successfully dislodged from the crosse.

RED CARD is given to an offending player, coach or any team personnel, who is immediately ejected from the game. Anyone who has received a red card shall be prohibited from participating in the team's next game.

RESTRAINING LINE is a solid line at each end of the field 27m (30 yds.) up field from the goal line which extends fully from one side of the field to the other side.

SCORING PLAY is a continuous effort by the attacking team to move the ball toward the goal and to complete a shot on goal. The scoring play is over when: a. a shot is taken. b. the attacking team loses possession of the ball. c. the attacking team passes or carries the ball behind the level of the goal line and stops the continuous attempt to score. d. the attacking team stops the continuous attempt to score or the player with the ball is forced by the defense to lose her forward momentum. e. the attacking team fouls.

SLASHING is the swinging of a crosse at an opponent’s crosse or body with deliberate viciousness or recklessness, whether or not the opponent’s crosse or body is struck.

SLOW WHISTLE is a held whistle, with flag raised, once the attack has entered the critical scoring area and is on a scoring play.

SPHERE is an imaginary area of 18 cm (7”) (average crosse width) surrounding the head.

SUBSTITUTION AREA is the area in front of the scorer’s table, centered at midfield, and sectioned off by two hash marks that are each 4.5 m (5 yds.) from the centerline of the field.

TEAM BENCH AREA is the area from the end of the substitution area to the team’s restraining line, and behind the level of the scorer’s table extended.

TOEING THE LINE refers to the placement of the foot up to, but not on, the center line.

12 METER FAN is a semi-circle area in front of each goal circle bounded by an arc 12 m (39’ 4”) from the goal circles.

WITHIN A STICK’S LENGTH is when any part of the opponent’s body is inside a crosses’ length. It is the distance a player must be to her opponent to be actively marking this opponent.

YELLOW CARD is given as a warning to an offending player, coach or team personnel. A second yellow card to the same individual will result in that person being suspended from further participation in that game.




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