The Basics of the Game
Girls’ lacrosse is a non-contact game played by 12 players: a goalkeeper, five attackers and six defenders. However, at the bantam youth level (youngest age group), teams may play 7 v 7 on a smaller field. With 12 players, seven field players may cross the restraining line and four stay behind. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. And yes, the team scoring the most goals wins.
Girls' and women's lacrosse begins with a draw, which is taken by the center position. The ball is placed between two horizontally held crosses (sticks), placed back-to-back, at the center of the field. At the sound of the whistle, the ball is flung into the air as the crosses are pulled up and away. The sticks must come up over the players' head. A draw is used to start each half and after each goal, and it takes place at the center of the field. Only five players from each team are permitted between restraining lines at the time of the draw. Once the signal for the draw occurs, the players behind each restraining line may cross over.
The collegiate game is 60 minutes long, with each half being 30 minutes. The high school girls and youth game is 50 minutes long, with each half being 25 minutes. In both collegiate and high school/youth play, teams are allowed two timeouts per game, only after a goal. The restraining line, a solid line 30 yards up field from each goal, extends across the width of the field. Solid/hard boundaries were added to the game in 2006. Total length can be from 110 to 140 yards, while total width can be from 60 to 70 yards. There must always be at least 10 yards of space between the goal line and the end line at each end of the field. There is a circle in the center of the field where the draw occurs. Two arcs are marked from the center of the goal line. The 8-meter arc with hash marks 4 meters away from each other bisect the arc. The 12-meter fan runs out from the goal line extended. Substitution area, used by both teams, is in front of the scorer's table and is indicated by two hash marks placed 5 yards on either side of the midfield line.
Seven attacking players only are allowed over the restraining line in their offensive end and only eight defenders are allowed over the line in their defensive end. The additional defender is the goalkeeper. Players may exchange places during play, but the player should have both feet over the line before the teammate enters.
When a whistle blows, all players must stop in place. Rough checks, and contact to the body with the crosse or body, are not allowed, however, incidental body contact may occur.
Field players may pass, catch or run with the ball in their crosse. A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent's crosse with a check. However, there is no checking at the younger youth levels. As of 2009, full checking is conditionally permitted at the 7th
grade level. A controlled check (crosse to crosse contact) is an attempt to knock the ball free. No player may reach across an opponent's body to check the handle of a crosse when she is even with or behind that opponent. A player may not protect the ball in her crosse by cradling so close to her body or face so as to make a legal, safe check impossible for the opponent.
All legal checks must be directed away from the player with the ball and cannot come within a 7" sphere of the head. No player is allowed to touch the ball with her hands except the goalkeeper when she is within the goal circle. A change of possession may occur if a player gains a distinct advantage by playing the ball off her body.
Fouls are categorized as major or minor, and the penalty for fouls is a "free position." For major fouls, the offending player is placed four meters behind the player taking the free position. For a minor foul, the offending player is placed four meters off, in the direction from which she approached her opponent before committing the foul, and play is resumed.
When a minor foul is committed in the 12-meter fan, the player with the ball has an indirect free position, in which case the player must pass first or be checked by an opponent before the team may shoot.
A slow whistle occurs when the offense has entered the critical scoring area and is on a scoring play and the defense has committed a major foul. A flag is displayed in the air but no whistle is sounded so that the offense has an opportunity to score a goal. If the offense is capable of getting a shot off, the flag is withdrawn. A whistle is blown when a goal is scored or the scoring opportunity is over. An immediate whistle is blown when a major foul, obstruction or shooting space occurs, which jeopardizes the safety of a player
Important Terms of the Girls Game
Arc -- Partial semicircle area painted in front of each goal circle at the distance of 8 meters and bound by a straight line on the sides that is at a 45 degree angle to the goal line. Used to define three-second violations and in the administration of major fouls.
Attack -- Players on the offensive team.
Backdoor Cut -- A cut in which the attacking player cuts behind the defender toward the goal or ball.
Channel -- When a defender forces her opponent to veer in one direction and maintain that path.
Critical Scoring Area -- An area on the field, not marked by any lines, with approximate boundaries of 15 yards around and 10 years behind the goal circle. Used in the evaluation of shooting space.
Cut to the Ball -- An offensive maneuver in which an attack player without the ball runs toward the ball carrier in an attempt to gain a position in front of her defender that enables her to more easily receive a pass.
Decoy Cut -- A cut intended to move the defender out of a space, and not necessarily to receive a pass.
Drop Down -- A defender's move away from her player and toward the goal area to help defend a second player.
Fan -- A semicircular area painted on the field in front of each goal circle and bounded by a straight line from the goal extended. Used in the administration of major and minor fouls.
Goal Circle Crease -- Home of the goalkeeper, this circle with an eight-and-a-half foot radius is painted on the field around the goal cage.
Indirect Free Position -- The result of a minor foul in which the player awarded the ball may not shoot immediately. She must pass the ball to a teammate or wait to shoot until her stick has been checked by a defender.
Passing Lane -- The aerial space between the ball carrier and her teammate's stick through which a pass would travel if it were made.
Penalty Lane -- An imaginary path to goal defined by two parallel lines that extend from each side of the goal circle to four meters on either side of the fouled player. The umpire clears the lane in some situations when the defense fouls.
Shooting Space Violation -- Foul that occurs when a defender obstructs the free space to goal within the critical scoring area. Free space to goal is defined as an imaginary path from the ball to the outside of the goal circle.
Sphere - Imaginary seven-inch area surrounding a player's head. The ball carrier must keep her crosse and the ball outside of this seven-inch sphere, and the defender may not check into the sphere. She may check through it as long as the check is going away from the head.
Three-Second Violation -- A violation by a defender who is not marking an attack player but who remains in the eight-meter arc for three seconds.