Unique Sports Advent Calendar – December 8: Lacrosse

So, we’re now a third of the way through the advent calendar. I should really work on getting up a backlog, so that way I can relax occasionally.

Not to matter, here’s my post for today – lacrosse.

History

Lacrosse has its origins in games played by the Native American Iroquois people, all of which had intense spiritual elements. It was encountered by European settlers and missionaries over the 1600s and 1700s, with French missionary Jean de Brébeuf giving it the name la crosse, which means ‘the stick’. Aren’t the French great, people.

A Canadian dentist, William George Beers, who had a rather impressive beard, formed the Montreal Lacrosse Club in 1855 or 1856 (sources vary), and codified the rules for it in 1867, at the age of 24. The first game under his rules was played that year, between Upper Canada College and the Toronto Cricket Club (which is also a skating and curling club, but cricket was the first of them?!), won by the cricketers 3-1.

Lacrosse became more and more popular, and was a sport at the (admittedly pretty experimental, and, in hindsight, terrible) 1904 Olympics, won by the Shamrock Lacrosse team of Canada. Unlike a lot of 1904 sports, it was held again at the 1908 Games in London, where Canada beat Great Britain 14-10, Patrick Brennan scoring 5 goals for the Canadians.

In 1971, the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association had the first tournament sponsored by the NCAA, won by Cornell over Maryland. In the years since then, Syracuse are the most successful team, winning ten titles, plus an eleventh in 1990 that was vacated due to playing an ineligible player.

US Lacrosse, the biggest organisation for lacrosse, was formed by a merger of regional organisations in 1998.

How to Play

Since there are different types of lacrosse, I’ll talk about field lacrosse here.

Find a field 110×60 yards, with markings for attacking and defensive zones. Get together ten friends (three attackers, three midfielders, three defenders, and a goalkeeper) and lacrosse sticks for each of them, up to 17cm at their head’s widest point. You also need a rubber ball that can fit in your lacrosse sticks.

You start each quarter, and after a goal, with a face off. You basically need to get the ball in the head of your lacrosse stick, and pass it to your teammates.

To score, you need to flick the ball from your stick into the goals. The goalkeeper, who has a larger head (30cm), is there to stop you. Also, lacrosse is a contact sport.

Who’s on Top?

The most recent World Lacrosse Championships were held in Denver in 2014, and won by Canada, beating the United States 8-5 in the final. 38 nations participated in all, with every one except Costa Rica winning at least one game.

2014 World Lacrosse Championships – Final Standings

  1. Canada
  2. United States
  3. Iroquois
  4. Australia
  5. England
  6. Scotland
  7. Israel
  8. Japan
  9. Germany
  10. Ireland

The 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship was won by North Carolina, who became the first team in the 46-year history of the tournament to win despite being unseeded. Even better, they did it over the #1 seeds Maryland in overtime, with Chris Cloutier scoring the winning goal and his 19th goal for the tournament, the most in history.

2016 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse Championship

Seedings in (brackets)

  • Champions: North Carolina
  • Runners up: (1) Maryland
  • Semi-finalists: (5) Brown, (7) Loyola
  • Quarter-finalists: (3) Notre Dame, (8) Syracuse, Navy, Towson

Australia

Australia is fairly good at lacrosse, having finished at least third in every World Lacrosse Championship except 2014. Our closest was in 1982, when we only lost by eight points to the United States.

We had a lacrosse league from 2004 to 2007, but that fell through due to costs, and we decide our champions by state carnivals. Victoria are the current state champions, and there is also a club championship.

For more information, go to http://lacrosse.com.au/.

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