(Photo: Jodi Vosika/ASU Lacrosse)
With the start of the MCLA season looming for many of the league’s powerhouses, speculation is swirling around the impact that offseason rule changes will have on the face-off game.
The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which determines the rulebook that the MCLA adheres to, ruled over the offseason that face-offs would undergo changes. The changes prohibit the ball from being carried on the back of the stick’s head, as well as altering the start of the draw to be on the referee’s count after setting the ball.
What’s the verdict from some of the MCLA’s best face-off specialists? No sweat.
“It’s not going to change my game at all,” said Zack Handy, ASU face-off specialist and two-time All American. “If anything, I think it gives me more of an edge over my opponents. I never used the pinch-and-carry style, so it just means less tactics that can beat me.”
Handy has shared both of his First Team All American awards honors with Joe Mikkelsen, who has been taking face-offs for Michigan State. They do differ in style, however, as Mikkelsen has used a pinch-and-pop approach to the face-off X during his time as a Spartan. When asked about it, he dismissed the idea that the rule change will have a negative impact on his game.
“I’m definitely not only that type of player,” he said. “I may have used it during my time in college, but only because I thought it gave me the best shot at winning the face-offs. Taking it away means I’ll just go back to what I’ve done in the past.”
The third All American from 2014, Grand Canyon’s Ron Hamwey, is also dismissive of the rule change’s effects.
“I think there’s an adjustment for all of us,” Hamwey said. “But this is not going to change anything for me. I’ll be as strong as ever in the face-off game.”
It remains to be seen whether the rule changes will shake up the face-off game at the MCLA level, but one thing is for sure: nobody at the top is worrying much about it.
Trey Lanthier is a lacrosse reporter and editor at the MCLA and WCSN, as well as a contributor for Inside Lacrosse. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @TreyLanthier.