Same name, different game

Divide reveals differences between girls and boys lacrosse

Brianna Edwards, Staff Writer

Players move in tandem on the field, sticks in hand, ball never cushioned in the net for longer than a second as rapid passes are made from teammate to teammate to score a goal. This is lacrosse, one of America’s most popular sports played by both men and women. On the surface, the two seem the same, but a deeper dive reveals otherwise.

Played by the Iroquois people, the sport has a history that dates back all the way to 1100 AD, making it America’s oldest team sport, according to History. Over time, however, differences between girls and boys lacrosse have developed. 

Everything about men’s and women’s lacrosse is different except for the name of the sport.

— Michele Gates

“Everything about men’s and women’s lacrosse is different except for the name of the sport,” varsity girls lacrosse head coach Michele Gates said. “The rules are entirely different. The field setup is entirely different, the equipment used is entirely different.”

Girls’ lacrosse stick heads have less of a pocket compared to the boys’, making cradling, throwing and shooting more distinct, according to LacrosseFanatic

“We’re also not allowed to shove each other, whereas in boys’ lacrosse you can do that, so they wear helmets,” JV lacrosse sophomore Vyhika Gourishetty said. 

In boys lacrosse, body checking is legal, while in girls, it is not. As a result, men have far more protective gear including helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads and rib pads, whereas girls wear protective eyewear. While both wear a mouth guard, girls’ lacrosse does not include helmets or padding, with the exception of goalies, according to TesoroLacrosse

Due to these differences, some argue that girls’ lacrosse is harder than boys’ lacrosse, especially in regards to stickhandling and shooting. 

“I can definitely see that argument because the girls’ sticks are a lot harder to pass and catch than with the boys’ sticks, and the ball definitely falls out easier, so I think it can definitely be a valid point,” boys varsity lacrosse captain and senior Connor Park said. “Whereas boys’ lacrosse is definitely more physical, so in that aspect it can be hard on the body.”

On the other hand, it can also be argued that boys lacrosse is more difficult due to this prominent physical aggression displayed on the field. 

“Boys lacrosse is definitely harder than girls lacrosse at the high school level because of the size difference between the boys,” JV lacrosse player and freshman Matthew Chu said. “During a sport where size matters immensely, it can be really hard for smaller kids to be able to succeed and be able to close the skill gap.”

However, because the two are so different, making a statement that one is harder than the other can be seen as unfair.

“I think you can’t compare boys and girls lacrosse because they’re so different,” girls varsity lacrosse player and senior Emileigh Goodloe said. “Everything about it is so different–like the equipment and rules, so you can’t compare which one is harder than the other.”

Another difference between boys and girls lacrosse is in the uniform requirements, where girls lacrosse requires skirts. Since the beginning women have worn kilts, skirts, or ‘skorts’ and this tradition continues today, according to WaveOneSports

“I do not like kilts,” Gourishetty said. “I think we should stick with shorts. They’re more comfortable and it just gives more of the game vibe.”

Although some teams choose to incorporate shorts, the majority of girls lacrosse uniforms to this day include a kilt and jersey. While the girls lacrosse uniform has changed and evolved over time, the skirts requirement has remained constant.

“The uniform is decided by the school, or the program,” Gates said. “There are a couple programs that will wear shorts, but I’ve not seen any high school team that wears shorts.”

However, even despite the differences between boys and girls lacrosse, both teams have made advances towards states, with the girls varsity team having won two games and lost one, and the boys winning their first game of the season on March 28 against Colgan.  

“You go through everything together through the wins and losses,” Park said. “So I think that’s really more fun than just getting to know the people on your team. It helps a lot when you’re on the field.”

With a promising start of the season, boys varsity plays next against Centreville on April 19 at an away game and girls varsity plays next on April 24 against McLean at home.

“My hope is that we get better today than we were yesterday,” Gates said. “I won’t necessarily say winning states is the goal because that would mean the season was a failure. But if we’re just getting better every day, then the program is getting better every day.”