Cuts, bruises part of `M' women's lacrosse

Daily Sports Writer
Published March 18, 2002

Women like to do things a little bit differently than men. Lacrosse is no exception.

"They shouldn't call (men's and women's lacrosse) by the same name because (women's lacrosse) is a completely different sport," said team secretary Jessie Simmons.

For starters, there is no pocket on a woman's lacrosse stick. This makes it much more difficult for women to move the ball up the field.

Would they like the convenience of a pocket?

"No! That would be cheating!" senior defenseman Lauren Peters exclaimed.

Simmons agrees that the absence of a pocket does make catching more difficult, but for good reason.

"Since (men) are wearing pads and can wail on each other, if they didn't have pockets, no one would have the ball for more than two seconds," she said. "Because there is no contact (in women's lacrosse), if there was a pocket, no one would ever drop the ball."

At least, there isn't supposed to be any contact in women's lacrosse.

It is illegal for women to check other players, but they can still take serious blows from the sticks of opposing players or the ball. Peters said most injuries have come against teams that are either "really aggressive or just violent." Michigan players suffered four concussions last season. Peters also recalled one her teammates that was just run over during a game "like it was football."

While the men wear pads and helmets, the women wear only a mouthpiece for protection.

The lack of facial protection poses the most serious threat to the women. Once, Simmons witnessed a girl break her nose after she got in the way of a shot.

Pads and helmets aren't the only thing missing from the women's game. There also aren't any sidelines.

Said Simmons: "If you are out on a big open field, they won't stop you until you have run into a crowd of people, a tree or a parking lot."

So far this season, Michigan has had its opponents on the run. The Wolverines won their first two games this season by a combined total of 39-2.

One of the top 15 club teams in the country, Michigan will face more of a challenge this weekend by playing the top three club teams in the nation - Georgetown, Loyola (Md.) and Navy - in Annapolis, Md. Michigan is hoping to see these opponents again in May at nationals in St. Louis.

To continue the progress of the program, the Wolverines have made some changes. At the beginning of the year, the team hired Mary Ann Meltzer - a former All-American at Maryland - to coach them.

Michigan has also become more selective. Last season, the Wolverines started having tryouts. Just half of the girls that tried out made the cut, leaving Michigan with 22 players on its roster. The selectivity has an unfortunate consequence. While anyone can play during "Fall Ball" in fall semester, girls without prior lacrosse experience can't play on the spring squad.

Girls that have not played before "would definitely have to go somewhere else to learn to play," Simmons said. "But we had to do what was best for the team and the growth of the sport."

The girls on the team, including those cut during the spring, become good friends and do many things together off the field, such as going to the men's varsity club lacrosse games.

But there weren't any friendships formed between the upperclassmen and the underclassmen last Friday. As part of a light-hearted initiation, Peters and the other upperclassmen required the freshman wear their game skirts to class.

"I don't think they liked it very much, but we thought it was fun," Peters said.