Things are speeding up at Franklin Field. For women’s lacrosse, that’s just how they like it.
This season, the NCAA is instituting a few new, important rule changes that look to increase the pace of the game and improve player safety. Although there’s always a learning curve that comes along with any changes, the reviews are mostly positive from the Quakers.
“I think that in some ways that we’re pretty proficient on the attack, we have a lot of opportunities for a lot of kids to score,” coach Karin Corbett said. “I think that defensively we have a strong defense so I think having that shorter amount of time on stances is helpful for a good defense. So, I feel that it’s fine on either end for us. I think that the transition part of it can get tiring for our middies, and that’s a challenge.”
The key rule changes relating to game speed have been instituted gradually. Last season, it was the institution of a 90-second shot clock. This season, the NCAA has approved free movement for players after the whistle.
Previously, players had to stop whenever a whistle was blown for a foul call, creating an awkward and difficult situation for players that impeded the natural flow of the game. According to the NCAA, “Under the new rule, players can keep moving after a foul or violation while the player possessing the ball restarts play.”
“There’s not as much stalling, you can’t take as much time off the clock, so you want to limit their opportunity bringing the ball up, trying to take as much time off the clock as you can,” Corbett said.
Outside of a two-meter non-engagement area, players are free to move around after the play, potentially setting up better opportunities for the offense and creating more possessions per game. Along with the shot clock, this puts a greater strain on defenses and allows the offense more opportunities to score. According to sophomore attackman Gabby Rosenzweig, this stands to benefit Penn.
“I personally like to play at a faster speed, and I think that we’re really good when we push the ball,” Rosenzweig said. “I think we’re able to score more fast break goals then we normally would be able to, it’s just definitely made the game a lot faster. I think it’s more fun to watch and to be a part of.”
However, this rule doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of Penn’s defensive players. In fact, they’re enjoying it as well.
“I like it all, it keeps the game a lot more fast paced and I think defensively you have to be locked in and focused for every moment of the game. You can’t really have a mental lapse, you can’t really beat yourself up on a play because that could result in a goal if you’re not ready enough. I think it’s fun, it keeps the game quicker and more what it should be,” junior defenseman Katy Junior said. “I think it works better for the defenders than it does for the attackers.”
Due to the way that Penn’s defense plays, they may stand to gain even more from this new, faster style of lacrosse.
“As a defensive unit we have a very athletic and very focused group,” Junior said. “I think it’s actually been good for us.”
Another important rule change this season is that during eight-meter free possessions, players will not be permitted in the box. According to the NCAA, “The Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee believes the change will alleviate the concerns of shooting space and dangerous slides from low to high during 8-meter free positions.”
“It’s much better, I think a bunch of kids were jumping into shots on eight-meters, and so I think that's been really helpful to minimize the risk of injury,” Corbett said. “That’s been a good change.”
No matter what, the Quakers are ready for the challenge of adapting to these new rules. And, given the team’s skillset and affinity for fast play, they may give Penn an extra edge this season.
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