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SCOOP IT UP Get low with Niagara

assistant, U.S. defender

Alice Mercer BY MEGAN SCHNEIDER You only have one

opportunity to get the ball out of your opponent’s hands and into yours. That axiom stuck with

Team USA defender Alice Mercer, who learned it from Maryland women’s lacrosse assistant Lauri Kenis and has carried that with her as an assistant coach at Niagara. In every practice, she leads a competitive ground ball drill.

“Those little plays will give us the big plays,” Mercer said. “I’m always trying to give credit to the kid who worked her tail off to get the ball back, which in turn gave us a goal. It’s all about celebrating the little moments.” “Ground balls

mean possession and possessions mean another opportunity for us to score,” she added. “Every time the ball is on the ground on our defensive end, it has to be ours.”


ALWAYS LEARN “Teach the game for understanding. Lacrosse is a team sport. … A lot of people think of LADM (Lacrosse Athlete Development Model) for youth only. I look at it as you’re always learning. I think there’s a misconception of having small, fun games for kids so they have fun playing the game. But the whole point is to teach them spatial awareness, where they are cognitively and physically. The same applies when you get older. You can continue to learn. The people that are most successful, no matter what they’re doing, are constantly trying to get

better with what they do.” — RICKY FRIED, HEAD COACH, U.S. WOMEN’S TEAM



The Ground Ball ATTACK

Read the ball’s speed and direction. Approach the ball at an angle to be able to box out your opponent. If there are several players fighting for the ball, flick it into open space.


Get low and stay low. “‘You should have grass stains on your knuckles,’ was always the line I heard growing up,” Mercer said.


Find the balance between slowing down to get low enough to scoop the ball and accelerating through the ball.


Bend your back and lean over your stick to protect it from being checked, while keeping your eyes up to assess your surroundings.

KNOW WHAT’S NEXT Determine your space, your speed and the

location of your teammates and opponents. If the ground ball leads to a fast- break opportunity, then push the ball. If it came on the defensive end after a long possession, then run to space and hit it back to your goalie. The key is to stick to a plan.

Accountability Matters “When we step on that field and

buckle our helmets and start getting into drills, we’re not going to yell at you. We’re not going to get all over you, but we are going to hold you accountable. … If we can’t trust guys, if we can’t ask guys to do one basic thing that we think fundamentally is going to be the difference in us winning a world championship, they’re not for us.”



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