NCAA targets goal circle, stick checks, timeouts in proposed women's lacrosse rules changes

The NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee has recommended several rules changes for next season, including that players on the defensive team be allowed to move through any portion of their goal circle when their team is not in possession of the ball.

Currently, only the goalkeeper is allowed to be in the defensive goal circle, with the exception of a player entering the crease after the goalkeeper has moved outside the goal circle.


Under the recommended new rules, only the defender marking the player with the ball within a stick’s length could remain in the goal circle. Once the ball is in the goal circle, only the goalkeeper or another defensive player would be allowed in the goal circle to play the ball.

The committee experimented with a modified version of this rule during the fall of 2012. Membership feedback indicated support for the change.


“The committee wanted to create more balance between offense and defense,” said Committee Chair Celine Cunningham, head coach and senior woman administrator at Stevens. “It gives defenders more freedom around the goal circle.”

All rules proposals must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss women’s lacrosse rules recommendations July 17.

Stick checks

The committee also recommended that coaches be allowed only three stick check requests during a game, including overtime, and that mandatory stick checks by officials be eliminated.

Coaches may request stick checks after a goal is scored or during any stoppage of play.

Included in this proposed rule change are the following procedures:

• After a goal, the player who scored may not touch the strings of her crosse and must immediately drop her stick.

• The official will take possession of the stick and may perform a discretionary stick check or allow reasonable time for the opposing team to request a stick check before returning the stick.


If the opposing coach requests a stick check after a goal, the official would inspect the pocket of the scoring player’s crosse. If the stick is found to be illegal, the goal would not count and the opposing team would be awarded possession at the center circle; the opposing coach would not be charged with a stick check request.

If a player doesn’t drop her stick after a scoring play, the goal would be disallowed and possession awarded to the other team at the center circle.

Committee members feel that this proposal allows coaches more control for when stick checks occur.

Currently, officials are required to conduct two mandatory stick checks per half per team. These stick checks can occur at any time during the course of a game.

Major foul on goal scorers

The committee recommended that a major foul committed on the scorer during or after a shot will result in possession awarded at the center circle.


The goal would stand, and the foul would be penalized with a free possession at the center circle.

“The committee always looks to improve student-athlete safety concerns,” Cunningham said. “We felt this proposal addresses those concerns.”


The committee recommended that each team be allowed three timeouts during regulation time. Teams would be awarded one timeout in overtime.

Table personnel would be allowed to sound a horn when a team is requesting any possession timeout.

The committee received several requests that an additional timeout be added.


Currently, teams are allowed two timeouts, and table personnel can sound the horn on dead-ball requests only.