Lacrosse Game Rules

How the Waterdogs’ New Faceoff Strategy Dominated Chrome


Copelan’s decision not to dress a faceoff specialist allowed the Waterdogs to add another midfielder to the rotation, which he said gave everyone more energy throughout the game. 

Four short sticks and two long sticks along with four standard middies made this week’s roster card. But if you count Carraway in that ground, 11 different players appeared in the midfield and they accounted for 19-of-37 ground balls and 7-of-11 caused turnovers. 

“I think it really did help to have five middies today with offensive guys coming in, so that plus the break coming in gave us a little burst,” Carraway said.

Copelan said his decision was “partially about taking advantage of the rules, but partially it was about losing Connor Kelly in the Worlds and feeling the need to activate another middie.”

Turnovers became almost expected off of faceoffs in the first half, as the Chrome coughed it up 15 times in 24 minutes. Seven were forced and most came directly after a faceoff win. Once the Chrome had adjusted, their deficit was too large to surmount, and the Waterdogs defense held strong behind Dillon Ward’s 13 saves at a 65% rate.

“I was going back a little too much in the first and second quarter,” Farrell said. “Maybe I was winning the possession, but I wasn’t making the smartest plays in the first half. I needed to take my time and… just look for the better opportunity to pass the ball.”

When the comeback mounted, Copelan switched to his secondary plan and moved Currier to attack intermittently to limit the options going backwards. In the end, the Waterdogs only won two faceoffs, and the second came from Currier, which was Copelan’s third and final plan. Currier won his only faceoff of the afternoon, but it was Gobrecht who stole the show despite winning only 5% against Farrell. 

Up 3-0 to start the second quarter, Gobrecht wanted to keep the ‘Dogs’ momentum going, and did so with his speed rather than his stick. 

Farrell won the faceoff backwards and sprinted all the way to the sideline with Gobrecht keeping pace. Unable to turn the corner, Farrell chucked it upfield to Jackson Morrill, who dropped it out of bounds and dove to get it back, but it was too late. 

Gobrecht used everything in his bag to rush Farrell and force a bad decision, while both sides of the ball contributed to a gritty ground ball war throughout the game. Seven Waterdogs, at least one from every position group, secured three or more ground balls. 

Going forward, Copelan is far from “married” to this strategy, he said. He’ll have to go through the film from these past two games, and will make his faceoff decisions on a matchup basis. 

“I think we will keep this as an option,” Copelan said. “I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s just a one-time thing, but I’m not convinced that we’re not gonna dress a faceoff guy moving forward. We have to see what our opponents look like.”

“Are they a power clamper? Can they fast-break you? Do they move the ball back or forward? Ultimately, what does their clearing pattern look like? There’s gonna be a lot of variables and I don’t know that I’ve totally unpacked that quite yet.”

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