Bruin Fan Guide to Lacrosse

Four straight winning seasons. A team of all-star athletes with grit and the stamina to go the distance. Athletes who train for weeks before their conference rivals even start, putting everything they’ve got into the game. Love and support that separates them from the rest. This is the mentality of the George Fox University lacrosse program.

What do you need to know about the fastest-growing sport in the United States to become a true fan of the game? We took a deep dive into the nuances of the game to help fans gain a better appreciation for it.

What is Lacrosse?

To someone who’s never seen a game, the sport can best be described as fast-paced, intense, highly team-oriented, and similar to hockey and basketball. There are two halves of 30 minutes each and 12 players on each team, one of whom is a goalie. The goal is to pass the ball by using a lacrosse stick in order to land it in the goal (before the shot clock runs out, that is!).

Equipment 

“You just need three things: a stick and a ball, and to be ‘field ready,’ goggles,” says George Fox head coach Katie Mastropaolo. “We women wear goggles or a face mask and also a mouthguard. In men’s lacrosse, you’ll see them fully padded, because the guys’ game is much more physical than the women’s game. So I consider the women’s game to focus more on finesse, talent and technique, whereas the guys have those things but can be a little more physical.”

Positions

Here’s a look more specifically at the main positions and responsibilities of a lacrosse player. We’ll break them down just into four parts with the help of Mastropaolo:

Goalie
“Their main job is to save the ball. Goalies have a helmet, stick and a chest protector. That’s really all the equipment they require. They can actually have more pads if they’d like, but that’s what they’re required to have. They are in charge of communicating with their defense. They save the ball, help with transitions, and communicate clearly and effectively.”

Defenders
“In my mind, if we don’t have the ball we’re all on defense. We have four defenders and their job is to get the ball back. And if we do have the ball, then we’re all in attack mode. So the defenders mainly get the ball back and look to make the clear and precise path up the field to try to get it to our attackers.”

Midfielders
“We have three midfielders whose job is to play defense and also attack, so they’re playing both ends of the field. They’re the ones who run the most, so high endurance is what we look for in midfielders. They also start the game. You’ll see when our game sets up we have a circle in the middle of our field. There is one midfielder in the center and two on the circle. The opposing team will have the same personnel, so there are three pairs in the center of the field. You start the game with something called the draw where the ball is placed in between the two heads of the stick, basically like a tip-off in basketball.”

Attackers
“Attackers’ main job is, obviously, to get the ball down the field and set it up into our offense and ultimately score and re-defend. There are four attackers, three midfielders and four defenders, so 11 field players and one goalie. That’s the basic concept. It gets much more technical, but that’s a great place to start!”

Picking Up the Pace

Mastropaolo shared that, in this upcoming season, women’s lacrosse will be getting a facelift of sorts. “We have a lot of new rule changes that came about. The rules are still evolving, especially the women’s side of the game, just to kind of match the pace of other sports. With new rule changes and the game evolving as time goes on, everything is ever-changing. We just have to keep up with it.”

Mastropaolo’s Mindset

“For my assistant coach and I, this is a ministry,” Mastropaolo says. “We have been handed 17 girls that we get to help walk through life with. I want them to know they are loved by the one true God. Walking alongside my team in that looks different for each one of them, but to be able to mentor in that way is the reason I’m here.  I think that’s one thing I’m really appreciative about George Fox in general – that all the coaches have that mentality.”