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April 27, 2010

Paul Cantabene's Faceoff Plays: Pop and Goose

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

This article appears in the "Your Edge" section of April's Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

Winning the faceoff is only half the battle. Rare is the occasion that you just pop the ball to yourself and dance in for the fast break.

It takes work.

Just as Paul Cantabene. He’s got the scar tissue on his knees to prove it.

Though his playing days are behind him, Cantabene has passed his mastery of the craft onto the next generation as the men’s lacrosse coach at Stevenson University -- now a Division III juggernaut -- and the faceoff consultant for the U.S. men’s national team.

Here are two plays from the turf troll himself that will create instant offense when mastered.

"GOOSE IT"

Both of these plays rely on the faceoff specialist to “goose it” to his wingman.

During a ground ball situation, if there is too much traffic around the player attempting to pick it up, the player can “goose it,” or whack it towards a teammate to gain possession.

POP IT BACK; GOOSE IT FORWARD

When to use it: If you win the faceoff behind you, but your wingman gets beat inside.

Why use it: The looming double team pretty much guarantees that if you scoop the ball conventionally, you’ll get mauled and lose possession. “When you try to pick up the ball, you’re going to get checked by the wing guy,” Cantabene says, “and you’re going to lose possession of it.”

Edge: By goosing the ball forward, you take two opponents out of the play and create a 5-on-4.

How to: Goosing sounds simple, but timing is key. Draw the ball out behind you at a 45-degree angle. If you see that your wingman has been beat inside, direct him up field. Before the opponents man-ball you into the ground like a jackhammer, swat the ball forward with either a backhand or forehand (based on positioning). Look to get a little lift, like a chip shot in golf, to catch your wingman in stride for the fast break.

POP IT FORWARD; GOOSE IT BACK

When to use it: If you win the faceoff in front of you, but it jumps out too far ahead.

Why use it: “If you pick that ball up,” Cantabene says, “their wing guy will crash into you, and you’ll turn it over.”

Edge: By goosing the ball back, you get it into a reliable stick and can potentially catch the opponent napping in a substitution pattern.

How to: Draw the ball out in front of you at a 45-degree angle. If it juts out more than a few feet, odds are the opponent’s more athletic wingman will be there in time to pound you if you try to scoop it. Instead, direct your wingmen behind and swat the ball backward with either a backhand or forehand (based on positioning).


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