Chalk Talk: St. Thomas More Louisiana

Chalk Talk: St. Thomas More Louisiana

Lacrosse Playground's Chalk Talk series was created to review film from new or interesting programs across the nation. We told participating coaches that we would highlight some good moments and things to work on. Most of the clips will be focused on the offensive end of the field.

It might not get more interesting than high school lacrosse in Louisiana.

St. Thomas More is based out of Lafayette, Louisiana. The Cougars are 9-2 this season with two games left in their regular season.

We watched their March 11th game against Captain Shreve out of Shreveport, Louisiana. The Cougars would prove to be victorious winning 7-5.

Clip 1

In this moment, St. Thomas More is restarting the ball deep in the corner. An attackman sneaks from X, but gets himself into trouble and instead of pulling the ball out, he forces a shot. This results in a slow developing transition opportunity going the other way.

This is a strange goal because that break seemingly develops out of thin air. There are two players trying to make a play at the midline but they take turns instead of book ending the ball carrier which would have resulted in a double team. Then the close defender gets stuck trying to decide if he wants to hold or slide up field.

When he does just take one step up field, he frees up his man underneath and Captain Shreve scores in tight.

This defender needs to trust that if he can delay a beat longer the trailer can make a play.

This is a series of "almosts" that results in the opposition scoring.

Sometimes an offense can catch a defense napping off of a restart but this was too slow in developing to be a positive play. The decision is compounded by the defense allowing a transition goal. Let's throw the ball around and start settled offense rather than trying to sneak a cheapie.

Clip 2

The Cougars are attacking against an extremely packed in zone defense. The passive defense induces a skip pass from just below GLE back up top that is thrown away.

Fortunately for St. Thomas More, Captain Shreve gives the ball right back. On the ensuing clear, the Cougars press the issue, take an okay shot, but scoop up the rebound and score off a quick dodge from X.

Big reaction from the bench as this is their first goal of the game.

Zone defenses are a nightmare for high school offenses, because you're asking them to string together multiple good decisions and passes to create a quality scoring chance. This is made all the more difficult if you don't have a prototypical zone buster.

This skip is most certainly a force because the ball is lofted such that even if it isn't over thrown there is enough time for the defense to approach and close out on the shooter. In other words, the skip pass does nothing for the offense so we don't want to talk that chance.

It helps that Captain Shreveport was subbing two men off and turned the ball over almost immediately, but attacking in transition before the defense can get settled into their zone is a must. Scoring in settled 6 on 6 is difficult so go early when possible.

The reason we consider that shot to just be okay is there isn't much heat on it and it isn't on net. Love that shooter is willing to shoot around the on ball defender for a screen. You also have some off ball movement in front of the goalie's face that may compromise his eye integrity. But, the shooter's momentum is pulling him back up field rather than downhill.

A fortuitous bounce, an aggressive carry, and an off ball defender worrying about sliding off his man results in a goal for the Cougars.

Clip 3

Now attacking against man to man defense off of a restart, a Cougar middie has a chance to score on the doorstep, but opts to dump the ball off through X. The adjacent close defender gets stuck in no man's land resulting in another inside finish on the front swing from X.

Like to see #88 and #99 time up their action a little bit better so #88 doesn't have to start his dodge, stop and restart. We want to be ready to go. This is the idea that all five off ball teammates must be doing everything they can to support the ball carrier.

A little bit of a curious decision by #88 to not shoot that ball. He actually makes a harder play by passing to the attackman (#3), but his teammate doesn't waste any time taking the defender to rack.

Clip 4

Let's jump ahead to the opening faceoff of the fourth quarter.

This is another moment where the ball carrier puts his teammate in a more difficult spot. The defense has pre-rotated with the exception of the third pole leaving that attackman wide open. By going through the point attackman, the face off middie trades in a dunk for a very contested drive through the lane.

Personal preference for fast break formation is the V instead of the L because you reduce the number of passes and therefore reduce the number of decisions made which reduces the risk of error.

Clip 5

In this clip #88 and #99 are working together a little bit better and free up an alley dodge with improved timing. This time #88 pulls the trigger on a high quality shot but the goalie is up to the task and the ball rebounds out of play.

The Cougars use an awesome big little pick action off the restart. The short stick comes from the other side of the field.

Because of the angle of the pick, the short stick defensive middie is convinced to switch.

Although the offense wins the switch and gains match up superiority, the crease is way too crowded. There are four defenders on the crease covering two men. One is the pick man #88 and the other is the original creaseman.

Understandly, the dodger (#99) blows by the short stick at X and shoots too soon. He either needs to wait longer at X and demand his teammates have better spacing prior to dodging or he needs to take another step and soak the slide.

Here's that moment again.

Notice the on ball defender look back three times for incoming pick and he still doesn't get through it without switching.

Watch the shooter drop his front shoulder and his hands allowing the goalie to better track the shot. Couple easy tweaks here result in a goal.

Best of luck to the Cougars. Thank you to Coach Tatford for sharing your film.

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