Graphic by Charles Nailen The Georgetown men’s lacrosse team plays its home games on Harbin field, while the women’s home field is Kehoe.

Lacrosse? That’s the one with the little net things, right? Yeah, I’ve seen it once.

You play lacrosse? But you look too small. Isn’t lacrosse really rough?

It’s kinda like hockey on grass, right?

To be frank, the misconceptions about lacrosse run rampant. Though it is still a mystery to many, especially those who live far from the East Coast, lacrosse is actually one of the oldest sports in America, played by Native Americans prior to the arrival of French traders in the area. Today, it has evolved into one of the world’s fastest and most exciting pastimes – and is also one of Georgetown’s most successful athletic programs in recent years.

In order to provide a quick and easy guide for those of you unfamiliar with the sport, we will progress quickly through several basic concepts to get you on the field.

The basic goal of lacrosse: score goals by using a stick to put the ball into the net.

The stick – or crosse, as it was termed by the French – is comprised of a shaft topped by a netted head, made of a solid frame and nylon netting. The stick is used to carry, pass and shoot the ball, as well as to play defense.

Men’s and women’s lacrosse differ greatly: the men’s game is more physical, whereas women’s lacrosse is based on pure speed and stick skills, since contact is not permitted. Goalies are permitted to use sticks with large heads to stop the ball more easily. In men’s lacrosse, defenders are also allowed to use long sticks that permit them to keep attackers at a distance.

Because of the contact involved, men require more equipment: a helmet with a facemask, shoulder pads, arm guards and gloves. Goaltenders generally wear only a helmet, chest protector and gloves. Women do not generally wear protective gear, though goalies are outfitted with the same protection as their male counterparts. Additionally, women’s sticks do not have a “pocket” – the netting of the head must be stretched taut to the frame. Men’s sticks are limited to a pocket that is only as deep as the diameter of the ball, allowing them greater control while cradling – turning the stick back and forth to keep the ball in the pocket.

Now that you’re adequately equipped and familiar with what you have to do on the lacrosse field, it’s time to move on to some of the positions, beginning with men’s lacrosse:

There are 10 players on the field at a time for each team: a goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attacks. Goalies and defensemen try to stop the opposition from scoring; the attacks supply the offense, and midfielders are expected to do a bit of both, generally bringing the ball forward in transition or running back to play defense. Attackmen are expected to have the best stick skills on the team whereas midfielders are often among the fastest players. Defenders must be quick, but also strong enough to hold their ground.

Of particular importance to Georgetown is the long stick midfield position. Teams are permitted to have four long sticks on the field at a time, and many coaches will replace a midfielder on defense with a fourth defender, or long-stick midfielder. Senior Kyle Sweeney holds the position for the Hoyas and garnered All-American honors last year and a preseason All-American spot for Spring 2003.

Women’s lacrosse is slightly different, although it is still divided between offensive and defensive players.

Twelve players take the field at a time. Attacking players include a center, right and left attack wings, first home, second home and third home. These players are marked on defense by a goalie, left and right defense wings, point, cover point and third man.

Georgetown possesses stars on both sides of the 2003 squad: senior Melissa Biles has been selected as the Preseason Big East Defender of the Year (and was an All-American last year), while senior attack Wick Stanwick was also an All-American selection last season.

Returning to men’s lacrosse, there are several important rules you should know:

The game begins with a face-off at midfield. After the defense and the attack have moved inside the boxes at either end of the field and the midfielders are on their wings, the two center midfielders line up in the middle with their sticks horizontal on the ground. At the whistle, the two try to flip their sticks down on top of the ball to gain control, and will usually flip the ball out to a teammate. Once one team has possession, all other players may release and move freely on their halves of the field.

At any time, both teams must have at least four players on their defensive half of the field and three on the offensive half. In the event that a player, such as a defenseman carrying the ball, steps over the midfield line, another is required to stay back in his place. A violation of this rule is called offsides.

Surrounding the goal on all sides is a crease. Offensive players are not allowed to enter the crease and will lose possession in the event of a `crease violation’.

On defense, when the other team has the ball, you are permitted to body check from the front with your hands together – you cannot cross-check (turn your crosse horizontal) to hit an opponent. You may also use short, controlled chops and pokes of your stick to your opponent’s stick and hands to try and dislodge the ball. No checks to the legs, back or head are allowed, and these will result in a penalty.

Players are allowed to change on the fly (as play continues), but must enter and exit the field through the box in front of the scorer’s table. The area doubles as a penalty box, where players are required to kneel for the duration of their penalty.

When a player takes a shot, the referee must signal the shooter’s intent. If the shooter misses and the ball goes out of bounds, possession is awarded to the player closest to the end line when the ball went out. (For this reason, attackers on the back side are encouraged to `back up the shot’ and get to the end line quicker.)

After a shot is saved or turned over on offense, the other team has ten seconds to advance the ball past the box in its own end. (Failure to advance results in a loss of possession.) Once the ball has crossed midfield, there is a 10-second time limit until the ball must enter the box at the other end of the field.

Women’s lacrosse places emphasis on speed, rather than ball movement. They also begin with a face-off, with two players in the center circle and the rest surrounding. Their two sticks are pressed together in the air with the ball between, and the ball is thrown up in the air on the whistle. Afterwards, each team tries to grab the ball out of the air to win possession.

Unlike in men’s lacrosse, the movement of players is not restricted, but there is a rule against crease violations.

Defenders may stick check their opponents, but cannot hit any other part of the player’s body. Doing so results in a stoppage of play and/or a free possession for the other team. When fouls are committed inside the arc in front of the goal, the fouled player is given a free shot on goal with the other players outside the arc. Women are not assessed time penalties for rules violations.

In one of the most unique rules in all of sports, there is no limit to the size of the playing field for both men and women. Teams are expected to use the natural boundaries of the space provided and possession of any ball that hits the ground in an unplayable area is given to the player closest to the ball.

Now that you’ve got a basic idea of the framework of the lacrosse game, it’s time to head over to Harbin field to catch the Hoyas in action, as both the men’s and women’s squads are coming off very successful seasons. Make sure to catch Biles, Stanwick and the rest of the Georgetown women try to build upon their No. 2 national finish of last spring, while Sweeney and the men look to replace the offensive talents of graduated attacker Steve Dusseau and advance further than last season’s NCAA quarterfinal appearance.

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