Women's club lacrosse looks to gain numbers, notoriety

By Jack Wickham

As a native New Englander, there are a lot strange things about living in the Midwest. First off, there aren’t as many fried things on a stick in my native town of Ridgefield, Conn., where soccer moms and minivans abound. The people here tend to be (in general) friendlier, and of course the seafood isn’t as good. However, one of the things I miss most about the northeast, and that I’m sure I will miss more come spring, is lacrosse. Lacrosse, a sport exploding in popularity, is somewhat of a religion in parts of the northeast, especially New England. Developed by the Native Americans and Canadians in the 14th Century, the game was played for various reasons, perhaps the most common being to settle disputes between conflicting tribes. However, other reasons for playing included praising the gods and toughening up novice warriors (hence the viciousness of the game). The “game” was much different back then; the terrain could be any size, and often ranged up to a few miles long, and the match could last for days on end.

Today, the game is quite different. There are four quarters, each of which starts with a face-off in which a member of each team fights for possession of the ball, which has been placed on the ground. After one gets hold of it, he or she may run with the ball in the head of the stick, or pass it. An offensive player may not step inside the circle surrounding the opposing team’s goal, which is where the goalie stays. Also, no more than six players from each team are allowed to be on one half of the field. This is called “off-sides.”

There are a few key differences in women’s and men’s lacrosse. Unlike women, the men can check (hit) each other with their sticks, provided the player being checked either has the ball or is near a loose ball. However, the checking can only occur between the waist and the shoulders or on the stick, and can only come from the front or the side. Because of this physical contact, men have to wear pads and gloves to protect themselves. Women, however, do not. Also, the pockets in women’s lacrosse sticks are much shallower, and they do not have longer sticks for defenders like the men do.

Unbeknownst to many, Macalester has recently formed its own women’s team. The team, founded last year, is a club sport, and has beginners as well as lacrosse veterans. As it is a spring sport, the team has so far only had two scrimmages against Hamline (both of which Macalester won, 8-3 and 6-4), and the team’s roster is not yet official, which means that players can still join up until the spring. Much of the team is new to the sport, which thrills rather than worries the team.

“We have a lot of new people [to the sport] on the team, which is exciting,” Olivia Posner ’12 said. “They have been picking it up pretty quickly.”

Posner, from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has been playing lacrosse for a while. She started in 8th grade and played until her senior year of high school, but quit because of the sport’s intensity.

“The team was really competitive, and I’m not a very competitive person,” she said. “I don’t like being pressured.”

Susanne Murphy ’12 had a fairly unusual high school experience involving the game.

“I played in high school on the boys’ team because we didn’t have a girls’ team at my school,” Murphy said. “It was really different. I always wanted to play defense, but I wasn’t allowed.”

The team had hopes of joining a league this year, but had to abandon this plan due to a lack of players

“It was disappointing for the team, because those of us who have been playing all fall really wanted to join, especially because we know we would do pretty well in the league given how we’ve done against other teams in the area,” Charlotte Fagan ’11 said. “But right now we just simply don’t have enough people, we need at least four or five more girls to be able to solidly join the league, and we didn’t want to join and not have enough people.”

The team will start up in the spring with the rest of the spring sports. The players added that they hope more people will join and that the team will grow in size.

“Our biggest obstacle right now is getting enough people on the field, which can be hard in Minnesota where not many people have played lacrosse before,” Fagan said.