The fastest game on two feet isn’t losing any momentum.
In the northern suburbs, lacrosse is easily the most popular sport in the spring. The depth of talent seems to increase yearly with dozens of local programs now contending and producing college talent. The stands begin to fill up as temperatures climb and playoff races heat up.
New rules have also removed some of the cringe-worthy hits from the boys game.
There is an eager audience for televised college lacrosse each weekend. And when there is a lull in the action, the debate over introducing a shot clock inevitably rages.
It has to happen eventually.
Nobody wants to see major college powers standing around or slowing down, waiting for the defense to make a mistake.
So make the change, please, and let it end there. Sure, the shot clock discussion trickles down each spring when area high school teams put a possession on hold to rotate personnel or stifle a more talented opponent.
Even so, it’s not an issue worth discussing at this level.
“There just aren’t enough high school programs who are skilled enough to generate offense with time constraints put on them,” said Lakeland/Panas coach Jim Lindsay. “You would end up with some ugly games. And you would have to put in two-point lines or teams would sit back in zones.
“It will be interesting to see what it’s like at the Division I level, but I don’t think it’s feasible at the high school level.”
There is a cost factor involved, too.
Installing a pair of visible shot clocks is an expensive proposition. Right now, only Rye and Harrison have them and they were put in with football in mind.
“There’s no need,” Yorktown coach Dave Marr said.
The end result very well could be more turnovers and less opportunity for players outside the core talent.
“It depends on how long the shot clock is,” Marr added. “If they went with 90 seconds, it probably wouldn’t change the game a whole lot, but if they went with 60 seconds you would need more two-way middies and things like that. It would be fun, but I think it’s more for the college level.”
There is no way to completely avoid the blowouts that are part of each season, but Section 1 has at least attempted to organize competitive leagues this season, which should cut down on lopsided games. It’s a great move that could be jeopardized by the ongoing realignment.
A move back to power leagues would equally benefit traditional powers and struggling programs and should be explored.
The one problem that seems to be hurting the game right now is the constantly evolving stick technology. It’s the issue that seems to be discussed in coaching circles more than any other.
Newfangled equipment makes it difficult to play defense.
“They need to change the technology of the sticks so you can dislodge the ball,” Lindsay said. “You see kids getting hammered and the ball never comes out. That’s not skill, it’s technology. Defensemen are not rewarded anymore. And it’s almost like the technology has masked certain defects in the kids. There’s not as much skill required to handle the ball in traffic or thread a pass on a line. Call me old school, but I see a lot of problems with the technology.”
Modifications are coming on that front.
“Stick specifications are changing in 2018,” said Chuck Pebes, a longtime Section 1 referee who is the rules interpreter for the Hudson Valley Lacrosse Officials Association. “That will help. I don’t see a shot clock helping now. The high school game moves pretty well now as long as the officials keep it moving.”
And some of the other problems that bog the game down are simply growing pains. We’ve seen a number of programs improve over time with proper support.
In other words, patience will be rewarded.