Another Role for LaPierre
CHARLOTTESVILLE — There is little that Chris LaPierre can’t do on the lacrosse field.
That’s been Dom Starsia’s position almost from the time LaPierre joined Virginia’s program last year. So don’t be shocked if the 6-2, 215-pound midfielder takes some faceoffs for the Cavaliers in 2011.
LaPierre spent considerable time at the faceoff X in the team’s scrimmage against a formidable collection of former Virginia players Friday night at the University Hall Turf Field, and he acquitted himself well.
“He’s obviously one of the best athletes in the program,” Starsia said, “and we just felt like if we run into a guy or a situation where we’re not winning the draw, he allows us to have more of our best athletes on the field and gives us a better chance to get to ground balls.”
As a freshman last season, LaPierre didn’t take any faceoffs, but he scored 10 goals — despite playing mostly at defensive middie — and was third on the team with 51 ground balls.
He’s not a faceoff specialist in the traditional sense, but LaPierre may benefit from the new NCAA rules concerning draws.
“No. 1, there’s now going to be a ‘set’ call,” Starsia said. “The referees are going to tell the players to get down, and then they’re going to say ‘set.’ That addresses the fact that recently people had been rolling into the whistle, and so they had been getting down and they would continue to move, anticipating the whistle, and the referees didn’t stop it. Now they have to stop before the whistle blows.
“The second change is that any attempt to hold the ball down is going to be whistled. Last year in our playoff game with Stony Brook, there were like 20 faceoffs where the two guys were locked up for 25 seconds. I assume that that’s now going to get called.”
Even in the Major League Lacrosse championship game, Starsia said, “I thought there were a lot of faceoffs that just took too long for the ball to get out. What’s been happening is that one guy wins the clamp, and the other guy presses down on top of his hands, and so the guy that won the clamp can’t get the ball out. But it ties the ball up, so we clearly needed to do something about that.”
Faceoffs that go on and on and on have become a problem, many in the lacrosse world believe. This is a sport, after all, that bills itself as “the fastest game on two feet” and whose popularity is steadily growing.
“We have a hard time enacting some rule changes that may help the game,” Starsia said. “I sort of feel like we are afraid to do what basketball has done in their sport.
“I’m sure basketball agonized over taking the jump ball out after every basket, but the faceoff, if we’re going to get tied up for an extended period of time, I can’t believe it’s what people want to watch. Unless we can clean it up somehow, this may be the last straw this spring to see if we can get the ball out of there quicker.”