The NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee and the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved changes to the established rule book for the 2020 and 2021 lacrosse seasons.
The following are the changes that will most greatly impact field play:
The pre-game stick check has undergone the most construction this off-season. Instead of each team member lining up to have a referee briefly examine her stick and pocket, eight sticks per team will be selected at random for close inspection. The lacrosse stick’s head will be assessed for illegal stringing, and the stick will be measured for illegal sizing. The pregame examination will be identical to a team-requested stick check, allowing for a more consistent and thorough enforcement of stick regulations.
The number of team requested stick checks allowed has been reduced from three to two, and only the coach who calls the timeout can request a stick check. In the past, either coach could ask for a stick check during a timeout.
Because stick checks are often called strategically to halt the opponent’s momentum or as an additional timeout, if a stick check is requested and the opponent’s stick is indeed legal, the team who called the stick check will lose a timeout. If the team is out of timeouts, its opponent will keep or regain possession.
The goalie or defender can enter the goal circle without throwing or placing the ball in the goal circle first. In the past, the ball had to be fully in the circle before any player could enter and obtain it. The rule change deletes an unnecessary step that often halted transitions and ball movement upfield.
On a free position shot within the 8-meter, all players and sticks will be required to clear at least 8 meters of the goal circle. If there are players below the goal line extended when the foul is called, they will have to move above the goal line extended and 8 meters from the goal circle. This should minimize shooting space fouls during 8-meter free position shots and speed up the pace of the game.
When one of the offsetting fouls is a yellow or red card, alternating possession does not apply. Instead, it will be given to the team that did not receive the card.
If there’s a false start or other penalty during the draw, the player regaining possession will no longer have to start from the center of the 50-yard line. Play will resume from wherever the ball landed after the penalty.
Most, if not all, of the new rules cleared up confusing details in the previous rulebook and will allow for more consistent calls. The main focus of these rule changes appears to be on minimizing game stoppage. By reducing whistles blown, the game will be more exciting and the fans more involved.
These rule changes can bring some much needed momentum back to women’s lacrosse and the Trojan turf this season, especially when No. 16 USC takes on No. 9 Michigan in what should be a back-and-forth game on Feb. 15.
The Trojans kick off their season on the road Feb. 8 against Hofstra.