Sept. 4, 2008
Note: This article appeared in the "Lacrosse Classroom" section of the January 2008 issue of Lacrosse Magazine, a US Lacrosse publication available exclusively to its members. Join today to start your monthly subscription.
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by Matt DaSilva, Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
To some, the 2007 NCAA Division II men's lacrosse championship game between Le Moyne and Mercyhurst was a low-score eyesore settled on a fluke goal. Mike McDonald's intended pass fumbled into the cage with one second remaining to deliver a 6-5 victory and Le Moyne's third national title in four years. The 11-goal total was the lowest in 86 NCAA championship games, dating back to 1971.
An indictment on offense? Maybe. Great defense? More likely.
No two teams allowed fewer goals per game in 2007, and Le Moyne's defensive discipline has long been the program's hallmark. What better way to illustrate the fundamentals of one-on-one defense than to see it in action? Whether you're a short stick defending from up top or a long pole taken behind, keep these tips in mind come springtime.
Stay Top Side
Breakdown: McDonald tries to bait Mercyhurst defenseman Joe Thon low on a change of direction with his body and stick. The Division II defenseman of the year commits with his body to cut off McDonald's momentum, but remains top side and keeps his stick up-field to seal him from the goal. So when McDonald rolls back to his strong side, Thon is there to meet him with a lift check, and the rest is a yard sale.
Close the Gate
Breakdown: At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Le Moyne defenseman Matt Juriga is a great lockdown guy on dodgers from behind. Once Mercyhurst's Bryon Lindner reaches goal line extended, Juriga stays top side, but he also "closes the gate" by squaring his hips and planting his outside foot in the crease. This forces Lindner to roll in the opposite direction into a bad angle against goalie Jared Corcoran.
Keep Stick Up-Field
Breakdown: Note that in both of the previous sequences, the defensemen kept their sticks up-field as their opponents dodged. Avoid the "windshield-wiper" effect of switching hands or going for stick checks on both sides of your opponent. Be patient. Cut off his angle with your body and keep your stick pointed up-field, seizing the opportunity for a more-judicious stick check.
Check Bottom Hand
Breakdown: While some have become enamored with over-the-head, windmill checks, Mercyhurst's Allan Downey is more disciplined. It's easier to dislodge the ball by neutralizing your opponent's (Le Moyne's Tom Donahue's) bottom hand than to go for the stick head -- it just doesn't look as pretty.