NCAA Switches Shooting String Regulations

Josh Horton, Reporter

Men’s lacrosse coach Jim Ricardo wants the sport to be known as the fastest game played on two feet–and rule changes for the upcoming season may grant his wish.

Each December coaches from all three of the NCAA’s levels meet to discuss flaws in  current rules, propose new ones and vote on whether or not they will be put into action.  Changes this year include stricter regulations on the stringing of the stick, lengthening the substitution box by ten yards on each side and limiting the amount of procedures on a faceoff.

The regulations were made to increase player safety–as well as increase the pace of play. The stringing of the stick affects the depth of the pocket, which Ricardo said provides less   effort for a defender to knock the ball loose, therefore limiting the number of vicious hits on offensive players.

“This is a safety issue concerning sticks and stick checks, and cross checks,” Ricardo said. “They are trying to eliminate that pocket so the ball can come out a little easier when you throw a stick check. Hence, get rid of so much more body contact.”

Senior defenseman Drew Abatangelo feels the new guidelines will definitely be an advantage to his fellow defensemen.

“From an attack standpoint, the ball comes out a lot easier,” the second team All-Freedom defenseman said. “As a defender once we hit it’s more likely to come out so we don’t have to wail on their arms. I like it a lot.”

Another decision that will impact  defensemen is the lengthening of the substitution box. This year the box will be ten yards longer on both sides, which will provide an advantage to the offensive player coming onto the field ten yards closer to the net.

“It makes mark ups tougher because you have to do them a bit quicker,” Abatangelo said. “But, on the other hand, it’s easier for us to get off the field on the other end and get a new guy on.”

Ricardo compared the rule to ice hockey. In hockey, if a team is trying to kill a penalty and its player jumps out of the box at the right time, he can be hit with a pass and have an easy breakaway.

In lacrosse, if  a defensemen comes off the field, an offensive player can enter 20-yards down the field and give a jump start on opposing defenders.

“A lot of games at the division one level have slowed down where they are trying to get good ball possession and trying to get different guys out there,” Ricardoo said. “This rule makes it so the game just keeps going.  It’s a little more fast-paced.”

Ricardo is also in favor of new limits on procedures. A procedure is called when one player in the faceoff circle tries to gain an early advantage on the opposition. The new rule states that once a player is called for two procedures, he must serve a 30-second penalty giving, the other team a one-man advantage.

“I think there were a lot of long faceoffs, a lot of jam ups and a bunch of guys cheating so this rule should help in a lot of ways,” Ricardo said.

He also feels this is much safer than some of the alternatives the NCAA had proposed.

“They actually had a rule where they wanted the two guys going for the face off to start further away and that would have just caused more impact,” Ricardo said. “The faceoff rule is simply meant for people to stop cheating. Some guys are timing the whistle and jumping.”

The final change that occurred this season was the addition of a 30-second shot clock. Ricardo doesn’t necessarily agree because different people have different views of the definition of a shot.

“I don’t think that was needed, but it’s in there,” Ricardo said. “If you’re not attacking the cage the referees will tell you clock’s on. and once it gets to ten they count the rest out loud and you have to get a shot on the cage. That’s a little suspect.  What’s a shot? Not a lot of our shots are on cage.”

Ricardo and his staff plan to implement a different conditioning program for the pre-season as the speed of the game increases. The team used its fall season to become acclimated to the changes.

“We will make some conditioning changes,” Ricardo said. “We only get four weeks of practice in the fall so we ran pretty hard then. Now we are going to have to have two-way middies guys who are going to have to play both sides of the ball.”

The team had its first taste of plat under the new rules at the HEADstrong Foundation’s 6th Annual Nicholas Colleluori Fall Men’s Lacrosse Classic on Oct. 7 at Ridley High School in Folsom, PA.

“With change you are a little hesitant until you do it, but we loved it,” Ricardo said. “I thought the fall went great and we are ready to get going in the spring.”

[email protected]