Comparing The Different Styles of Lacrosse

Playing lacrosse in high school, I remember a teammate of mine. He was a year younger than but a very talented, athletic person; a solid performance on the varsity football team and varsity lacrosse starting his sophomore year.

In a highly anticipated away game of ours, we drove two or three hours to the Lancaster, PA area to compete with an opponent who had a history of beating us.

As the final seconds of the game wound to a close, a third player on our team (Easton Rovers) sniped a ball past the goalie, taking the game to overtime. Everyone was ecstatic and the coach immediately huddled Easton together to focus and make a game plan. Like most high school programs overtime was sudden death, first team to score wins.

The minutes were quickly slipping away in the back and forth battle. Both goalies were performing outstandingly, and defenses were stepping up to the ball.

We had a set offense that was running, and every Easton Rover pulled the field play low and close to the goal. For those that don’t follow lacrosse, like in basketball or hockey this makes the offense more dangerous. Adjacently, the defense becomes a focal point because if they steal the ball/puck there is no one back to slow down the fast break.

My teammate originally mentioned in this article hung his stick low and wide, attacked from X and immediately got triple teamed. He slicked through the players and whipped a “low-to-high” shot right through the net. Easton wins. The celebration continued all the way home and through a buffet dinner (the rest of the ride following a heavy meal was quite unpleasant at the back of the bus).

A few months later, here we are in the gymnasium at the high school having an offseason intramural practice. A cage is set on carpet squares on the hardwood floor, and we’re all in full gear, sneakers and the using the “indoor” balls (soft, cushy lax balls to prevent heavier damage).

The standout lacrosse teammate a year my junior who saved the away game is pinned in the back corner of the room. Our defending teammate is doing a great job of jamming him there, and a second defender comes to the aid. They strip the ball.

My offensive teammate (I repeat that word to emphasize that’s all we were, unfortunately. High school drama, anyway…) threw his stick away, tossed his gloves and slammed his way out a back stairway door of the gym. He was heated and needed a minute to cool down. Our coach did not approve of his behavior and consequently made us all do suicides while Mr. Heated sat a chair and watched.

I am constantly reminded of this memory as a writer of both MLL and NLL. They are very different styles, and although both can contribute to the other, it’s my perspective that NLL focuses much more on speed, stick skills and stamina. Whereas a ball goes out-of-bounds in outdoor/MLL, more often it stays in play in indoor/boxla/NLL. Instead of being shoved away from a defender in outdoor, the indoor style pins players against walls, doubling the impacts.

This was a story to demonstrate the frustrations, differences and styles of NLL and MLL.