Meram is scoring some sweet-ass goals of late
Michigan plays their first ever road game and first ever ranked opponent.
Follow along here:
What the headline says.
University of Michigan men's lacrosse head coach John Paul announced in conjunction with his counterparts at Ohio State (Nick Myers) and Penn State (Jeff Tambroni) the establishment of the Creator's Trophy, which will be an annual award among the three Big Ten schools that sponsor men's lacrosse.
A team that earns a 2-0 record against the other programs will take ownership of the trophy each spring and have its name and the year inscribed. If all teams earn a 1-1 record then no team or year will be recorded on the trophy and it will reside with the most recent team to win it outright. Following each game, a player of the game from the winning team will be selected.
Ohio is a conference rival at the moment, but Penn State is not - they play in the CAA. But this essentially cements a nonconference game against PSU every year, as if we didn't mostly expect that already. A neat idea.
I would give Penn State a slight edge over Ohio this year, but it shouldn't be long before U-M is competitive with these two schools. I think by 2014 - the program's third year - we could be in contention for this thing.
[Ed: Bump. Also see Brooks's lax primer.]
A historic moment for U-M seems to be getting a little bit of a short shrift - mgolicious shouldn't be the most notable place for a mention of the first varsity NCAA lacrosse game in Michigan history - so for those interested in the game but who couldn't make it out to Pontiac or watch the live feed, here is a recap. This will be kind of a cheap diary entry, since most of it will just be copying and pasting my updates (plus a few others from other folks) from the de facto game thread. In other words I'm basically just rounding up the thread and its comments in a more digestible form. This way you won't have to do as much scrolling and you can get the feel of the game all in one.
A quick primer: yesterday, the dynastic Michigan lacrosse team took its first step into a larger world with a game against the other instate D-I program, Detroit Mercy, and lost, 13-9. It was a very even, back-and-forth game until about halfway through the third period. The game was hosted by UDM but took place at a neutral venue in Pontiac, which appeared to be almost - if not totally - sold out.
Quasi-play-by-play recap follows, as C&P'ed and polished up a little from the game thread:
- First ever goal in UM Lax D1 history-Bryant. 1-0 UM
- 2-0, Michigan. It's been a pretty defensive game. Neither team getting many shots.
- 2-1, Michigan, UDM with a goal.
- UDM's man-up opportunity amounts to nothing because UDM took an early shot and failed to back it up, U-M ran out the rest of it but gave up the goal shortly after. 2-2 now.
- Michigan up 3-2 after one and looking good in spots. Nice feed for the third goal.
- 4-2 score now with U-M converting a fast break chance.
- Always with the scoring exactly as I'm typing. 4-3. This game started off slowly in the offense department but has a chance to be very high-scoring indeed. Just to drive the point home, 4-4 now with a quick UDM goal off the faceoff.
- U-M looking sloppy now. Failed clear follows three lost FOs in a row.
- Goal UDM, 5-4 Detroit. Short-stick middie got beat badly on a run by the UDM middie.
- Michigan ball now, nice save by the Detroit goalie but a poor clear puts Michigan back on the attack.
- 5-5 now with about 3:30 to go in the half.
- 43 seconds left in the half, Detroit calls timeout to set up one last shot. Tied at 5.
- Halftime and we're all tied up at 5. I would say UDM has the ground ball edge but Michigan is holding its own. (Note: This proved to be a false impression, as Michigan actually had the GB edge in the game, 29-23, with most of that margin coming in the first quarter.)
- UDM up 6-5, early in the 3rd.
- Michigan had a great chance on a fast break but Levell made another beautiful save.
- Goal Michigan, 6-6 now, almost halfway through the third period.
- 7-6 UDM with a Detroit goal from close quarters.
- Sudden scoring spurt - 8-6 Detroit now on a semi-fast-break.
- UDM backs up a Michigan shot and gets the ball, about 5 minutes to go in the 3rd.
- 8-7, Michigan goal, very nice defense behind the net led to getting the ball and a goal with about 3 to go.
- 9-7 Detroit on a hard-fought goal. Michigan wins the ensuing FO and has the ball.
- Detroit with a steal off a terrible pass and a fast-break goal to go up 10-7. 35 seconds left. A lazy, sloppy play.
- 3rd period over with a 10-7 UDM lead.
- 11-7 now on a bounce shot....UDM starting to open it up. 12:18 to go.
- Looks like a UDM EMO coming up. The boys are starting to get a little too desperate.
- And UDM scores on the EMO. Michigan had done a nice job on defense and got the ball, but couldn't hold on as UDM used the extra man to double up and get the ball back. 12-7 Detroit now.
- Michigan scores, 12-8 now. 8:17 to go, so there's definitely plenty of time.
- Looks like an EMO coming for Michigan now. Silly, silly penalty by UDM, which is known to be a little bit of an overemotional team.
- Again nothing doing on the EMO. Detroit ball and Michigan doesn't seem interested in playing aggressively to get it back.
- As soon as the penalty was over, UDM went on the attack again and Michigan got the ball back pretty quickly.
- Time-out, 2:22 to go. UDM holds the 12-8 lead.
- And UDM with what looks like a clincher at 13-8, eight seconds after the end of the TO.
- Michigan with a respectability goal to make it 13-9. 24 seconds.
- Detroit 13, Michigan 9 is the final.
And now for the editorial section:
- 1st quarter: Playing solid defense against what's supposed to be a solid UDM squad offensively. But you can also see why this team will struggle: faceoffs are about even against a team that's been absolutely worthless at the X, and the man-up chance didn't look good at all, no coordination or sense of urgency to attack.
- Halftime: Though only outscored by one, not a good half for Michigan. Only one goal on a settled situation, the other, IMO coming from taking advantage of mistakes that better teams don't usually make. Detroit exposed a weakness by attacking the SSDMs - didn't always score on it, but created chances. Part of the Michigan offensive slowdown came from improved defense by UDM, though, including one very, very nice save by Titan goalie Levell. Michigan got killed on faceoffs in the 2nd, though, which just can't happen against Detroit, by far one of the worst faceoff teams in the nation.
[Ed: second half and recap afte the jump.]
Michigan kicks off it’s 2012 season on Sunday. So, I figured it was worth a short post to explain the basic rules and set up of a lacrosse field. If you grew up playing the game or around the game, this post will seem boring and really rudimentary, but hopefully you’ll find some of the later posts more interesting and helpful. If you’re new to the game and want to have a sense of what’s going on this spring, then my hope is that you find this really helpful.
Note: everything below is for the men’s game. If people have questions about the basics of the women’s game I’d be more than happy to address those as well, but since the men’s team goes varsity in 2012 I figured I would start with men’s basics.
Here is a link to what a field looks like and its dimensions. The field is roughly the same size as a football field and just slightly smaller than a college soccer field (110 yards by 60 yards). In terms of rules and what to think about when you’re looking at the field, the easiest correlation is to a hockey rink. View the midline in lacrosse as the red line in hockey, and the two restraining lines as the two blue lines. You have an offensive and defensive half of the field on either side of the midline, but in actuality your offensive and defensive zone go from the restraining line (hockey blue line) to the endline.
Like ice hockey, you can also take the ball and play offense/defense behind the goal. There is a lot more room behind cage in lacrosse, so you’ll see a lot of offenses set up their plays and formations from behind the cage.
Each goal is surrounded by a crease. The goal is 6 ft x 6 ft, and the crease has a diameter of 18 feet. The defense is allowed to pass through their goalie’s crease, but offensive players are not allowed to step into the crease during play. If an offensive player does step in the crease, it’s an automatic change in possession. Their sticks and arms, however, can break the airspace of the crease. Sometimes you will see an offensive player steps into the crease and no call is made. This means the referees determined 1 of 2 things occurred on the play: either a) the offensive player was pushed into the crease by a defensive player, therefore it was not his fault he stepped in or 2) there was a goal on the play and the player stepped in the crease after the ball crossed the goal line. Since the play was over once the ball crossed the line, the offensive player could enter the crease.
Basics: Each team has 10 players on the field at any given time: 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 midfielders, and 3 attack. You can normally tell which player is which based on what stick they have.
- Goalies (in addition to normally being around, you know, the goal) have a stick with the biggest pocket (net). It’s around the size of the net that you’d see a pool cleaner use or that you would use fishing
- Defense are also called “long poles” (easy on the jokes, people, lacrosse provides plenty of “that’s what she said” moments) because they have the biggest sticks on the field (settle down). Their stick is just under 6 feet long (ok, have at it)
- Midfielders and Attack have the short sticks. If you’ve noticed the neighborhood youths in front of your coffee shop have traded in their hacky sacks for lacrosse sticks, they are normally middie/attack sticks.
Now that you know who’s on the field, let’s talk about who goes where. On defense, you must have at least 4 players on your defensive half of the field (behind the midline) at all times. Normally, these are your 3 defensemen and your goalie. On offense, you must always have 3 players on your offensive half of the field (again, behind the midline). You normally have your 3 attack stay on the offensive side of the field at all times. That leaves the 3 midfielders who, like in soccer, run the entire length of the field and play both offense and defense. If you are ever caught with the wrong number of players on either half the field, it’s a penalty—if you have the ball you lose possession, if the other team has the ball you will be called for a 30 second penalty (more on those later).
This means that while the game is technically 10v10, the majority of time is often actually played 6 v 6: the offensive team’s 3 attack and 3 middies (since their team’s 3 defense and goalie are behind the midline) vs. the defensive team’s 3 defensemen and 3 middies (since their team’s 3 attack are behind the midline).
One other thing you’ll notice is that teams talk about their “LSM,” which is an abbreviation for “Long Stick Middie.” Each team is allowed a maximum of four long poles on the field at any given time. So, when a team is on defense they will try to sub out one of their midfielders for an extra defender. This brings us to:
Substitutions in lacrosse are also very similar to ice hockey. You’ll see a lot of teams will do most of their substitutions “on the fly” or during the flow of the game. So, while your offense is passing the ball around, you may bring in a new group of midfielders onto the field. The second one player is off the field, you can bring another one on to ensure no one ever has more than 10 players on the field at a time. Many teams will try to get a group of 3 defensive middies on the field (an LSM and 2 midfielders who specialize in defense), and then will sub them out for 3 offensive middies (players who specialize in offense. Wait, sorry, that was probably pretty obvious).
The other situation for substitutions is called a “horn.” If the ball goes out of bounds along the sideline only, either coach is allowed to ask for a horn, which stops play and allows both teams to make as many substitutions as they need. On a horn, you could theoretically sub out all 10 players without risk because the ref will not re-start play until both teams are done substituting.
Finally, after a goal, time out or a penalty that results in a man-up or man-down situation, both teams are also allowed to make as many substitutions as they need and referees will stop play until both teams complete their subs.
At the start of each quarter and after every goal, there is a faceoff. During a faceoff, only the three midfielders from each team are allowed to run in between the restraining lines.
This is also why having a good faceoff guy is so important. If you consistently win the faceoff, lacrosse almost becomes “make it-take it.” You never have to let the other team touch the ball. Or, if you give up a goal, a good faceoff guy gets you possession so your offense can get you back into the game and your defense take a breather.
When the Ball Goes Out of Bounds
This is where lacrosse confuses most people. If the ball goes out of bounds on a pass, it’s just like any sport—whoever touched the ball last loses possession of the ball.
On a shot, however, whichever team is closest to the ball when it goes out of bounds gains possession of the ball. As a result, most teams will keep one offensive player behind the net at all times. While it gives them one less shooter for the defense to account for, it means that they always have a player right on the goal line to keep possession after every shot.
Finally, penalties are very similar between ice hockey and lacrosse. Even the penalties you’ll hear called are very similar: offsides, slashing, push(check) from behind, tripping, illegal body check, etc. Rather than go through every single penalty individually, here’s the basic rule of thumb: you can do whatever you want to an opponent as long as it isn’t to their head, from behind, or below the waist. Other than that, most things are fair game.
In the event of a penalty, one of two things will happen. If neither team has possession of the ball when the penalty occurs, it’s considered a “loose ball” and the ref will stop play almost immediately. Some refs will allow for a “play on” if the victimized team has an advantage in play like in soccer, but that is not very common. If you commit a loose ball penalty, the other team is given possession of the ball (there is not stoppage in play for substitutions in the event of a loose ball penalty).
If a penalty does occur when a team has possession, the refs will throw the same flag that you see in a football game, but like in ice hockey they will let play continue until the next whistle. Like ice hockey, after the whistle blows the player who committed the penalty sits in the penalty box and the team plays one player short for either 30 seconds (for technical fouls like push from behind or offsides) or 60 seconds (for personal fouls like slashing or illegal body check). These situations are also called “EMO” or “extra man opportunities.” The offense gets to then play against a defense 6v5 rather than 6v6 until the penalty ends. With almost all penalties, if the team playing man-down gives up a goal then the penalty automatically ends and the player is again allowed back onto the field.
If you have any other questions about basic rules, please ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer (or any of the other readers who have as much experience, if not more so, than me with the game). My next post is going to be about the basics of offensive and defensive strategies and what Michigan will most likely run based on their the coaching staff’s past. As always, also let me know if there’s anything specifically you’d like me to cover.
Lacrosse won their preseason scrimmage against Denison today 12-8. Anyone there? Thoughts? Season starts next Sunday against the Titans of Detroit.
Michigan Lacrosse feature on Fox 2 the other day for those who didn't see it. First exhibition game is tomorrow at 1pm vs denison at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. Then it's off to Pontiac for the game against detroit. Seems like a rivalry could be born.