Editor’s Note: If you were in Vermont this past weekend, I hope you got out to see some U19 box lacrosse! Team USA’s U19 box training team took on the Vermont Jr. Voyageurs in two games (one on Saturday night and one on Sunday morning) as preparation for the juniors tournament that will precede the FIL World Indoor Championships.
My aunt and uncle, Cathy and Dennis Hudson, both live in Vermont and went to the game, and while they’re big time hockey fans, they were curious to check out a game of high quality box lacrosse. Below, you can find Dennis’ thoughts on watching LIVE box lacrosse for the first time, and below that you can find score sheets for the game!
Photo Credit: Cathy Baker Hudson
U19 Box Lacrosse: USA Vs Vermont
On Saturday night, my family and I went to watch the Vermont Junior Voyageurs play the USA U19 Box Lacrosse training team in a scrimmage, as the U.S. Team preps for the upcoming U19 box lacrosse tourney, which will take place the week before the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. The game was played at the Essex Vermont High School rink. It was the first box lacrosse game I’ve ever attended, and while I’ve seen some of the pro leagues play a bit on TV, mostly I’m still a newbie to box lacrosse. My son and daughter both play or played High School lacrosse here in Vermont, but that was field lacrosse, and this is totally different!
To be fair, I’m a hockey guy. I play currently, I’ve coached, I’ve been a ref, and I have been a fan my whole life. As a casual fan/parent of youth lacrosse players, I obviously like outdoor/traditional lacrosse but I don’t love it. So, my thoughts on the box lacrosse game? I think like it more than the outdoor game! Why? Because, it’s more like hockey, of course!
The game of box lacrosse is very fast. It’s also very physical. Most of the hitting looks more like cross checking to me than actual hitting, and before the game got underway I thought more guys would drop a shoulder and drive the player into the boards or in front of the net as they made a run through to shoot. I realized pretty quickly that actual body checks are harder to do off skates, as players can stop and cut more quickly on foot, making those kinds of hits more difficult. Another thing that was surprising to me was that all kinds of interference/checking is allowed against players without the ball.
The skills on display were very impressive. The passes in tight and the fake shots to get that extra second of time to then rip off a shot, are both awesome to watch. There was just so much skill on display, and the shooting accuracy is simply hard to fathom. As a hockey player, seeing the relatively small goals protected by the freakishly large padded goalies, I saw little or nothing to shoot at, yet players for the two teams combined to score 30 goals in total on Saturday night. Hockey players shoot from a 2 dimensional plane. Lax players shoot from a 3 dimensional area, which seems to help. So maybe that explains the difference. Plus the bounce shot is deadly!
While all this was great, there were some issues with the box game for me. The setting in the hockey rink is great except to save money, and the rink was not air conditioned at all, so it was very hot and muggy inside. The players were dripping sweat, and the goalies really suffered! The sweat on the bare cement floor also contributed to a lot of slips and falls. And the light grey floor and the white boards made the off white ball really hard to see. A bright neon ball would have helped a lot.
Here’s another weird thing… I’m not sure why, but the player noise, cheering, yelling, and stick banging was the dominant noise in the rink. There weren’t many fans there but the noise from the playing area was so much louder than in a hockey game. Does ice muffle noise differently that cement? It’s the only explanation I can think of. Fans in the stands can barely hear the players at an ice hockey game and yet we could hear everything from the floor… weird.
Ok, back to the positives!
There were a lot of breakaways in the game and that was exciting. Something that still has me confused though is the pulling up and waiting for offensive reinforcements if it’s not a totally clear breakaway. Why not challenge the defender and try to score? You’d never be that passive in hockey. I think I do know why this happens though, and it makes some sense. In lacrosse, when you have the ball, you pretty much can hold onto it, so control is paramount. You can be patient. In hockey the puck can easily be taken away, so pulling up on a partial breakaway risks losing any scoring chance at all so hurrying is a better approach. But with the control you have in lacrosse you can be patient. To be honest, that’s my main beef with lacrosse (and basketball) when a team has the ball, it’s very hard to get it from the team until after a shot. I’d like to see more takeaways, which could lead to more breakaways.
Overall, the game of box lacrosse is a little too controlled in my mind. That being said, the shot clock is a great addition, forcing the attack and shots, and therefore turnovers. That in and of itself made a huge difference in the entertainment factor. I think it’s also more fun for the players too.
Oh right, so the USA U19 team won, 17-13 in a hard fought battle. They seemed a bit better structured and their shooting accuracy was a bit better. The US had solid and balanced scoring, and I didn’t see a single on of their players score more than two goals. I think 10-11 different players scored goals for the US. That was impressive. For Vermont, #25 (Quinn Tabulsy) really stood out when scoring, notching a hat trick or more in the goals AND assists categories. Good luck in the U19 World Championship Tourney to Team USA!
So there you have my newbie/hockey biased thoughts on box lacrosse and last Saturday’s game. If I were a lax player, and perhaps knew more about the teams/players, and had followed them over time, I’m sure I’d be more into it. It’s definitely a great, fast, intense, physical sport with a great history and a great future. So don’t be too harsh in your critique of my first impressions!
– Dennis Hudson
USA U19 Box Lacrosse Vs Vermont – Box Score
Team USA can be seen on the left, and the Vermont Jr Voyageurs can be seen on the right. The left hand column is the goal sheet, the next column over is penalties, and the final column is a roster with player numbers.