Best Foot Forward: New Rules Could Help Lacrosse's Case for the Olympics


U.S. defender Megan Douty, a Fall Classic roster member, adjusted to new rules set forth at the 2017 IWGA World Games that allowed for a change of pace in the women's game.

Prior to the 2017 IWGA World Games, the butterflies were surfacing for Team USA defender Megan Douty.

She was nervous to adjust to a position she hadn’t played since high school — plus at a faster pace than any college or international game she had competed in.

With a new rule aimed at progressing the sport toward Olympic inclusion, allowing teams to field just 10 players on the field instead of 12, the U.S. women’s national team employed a new game plan. That meant the typical low defender was back in the midfield.

“After the first game, I quickly realized that the change of speed brought a new level of excitement to the sport,” Douty said. “I loved the challenge to

It was an adjustment for all six participating nations — the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Japan and Poland — but Team USA did it best with an 11-8 victory over Canada in the final. The Americans fielded two attackers, two defenders, five midfielders and one goalie with interchanging midfield lines.

However, the games were more about displaying lacrosse as a great product to the Olympic Committee.

“It’s about the sport now, putting our best foot forward to make sure that when the International Olympic Committee sees what this has to offer, they’re really excited about it and these players become the pioneers in getting lacrosse into the Olympics,” then-U.S. head coach Ricky Fried said.

And the Federation of International Lacrosse General Assembly saw the benefits.

On July 10, in a grand step in pushing the sport toward the Olympics, it approved three major rule changes to the international women’s game — 10 players per team, four 15-minute quarters and self-starts. (The FIL also adopted two more rules: no over-and-back in men’s lacrosse, plus sudden death overtime periods in four-minute intervals.)

“We are looking to harmonize the sport between men and women, and not altering the traditional styles of play, as we continue to identify ways to increase fan engagement and following of the sport,” FIL president Sue Redfern said.

The rules come after several trial runs over the past year at various events, including the World Games. Participating players were surveyed after competition and 70 percent of respondents supported the implementation of 10 players per side.

“I do believe that it will help propel the game of lacrosse into the Olympics,” said Douty, a member of the inaugural WPLL champion New England Command, whose league played with similar rules this past summer. “With the men’s [world championship] wrapping up and getting so much media attention, I think there is a very good chance lacrosse will soon be in the Olympics.”

The new rules will be in use at the next FIL Women’s World Cup in 2021, hosted by US Lacrosse in Towson, Md

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