Faceoff specialist Stephen Kelly of the No. 5 North Carolina men’s lacrosse team lined up face-to-face with High Point’s Jamie Piluso to begin the two teams’ contest on a cold and windy Tuesday.
But something about this faceoff was a little bit different than what UNC lacrosse fans have come to expect. Kelly lost his first faceoff.
And his second. And his third.
On the slick AstroTurf of Navy Field, the Tar Heels managed to pull away and win 15-9, but UNC’s faceoff team still has a lot to improve upon as Kelly and Co. acclimate to the newly instituted rules at the faceoff X.
“Stephen was so good a year ago,” Coach Joe Breschi said. “With the new rules and the changes… You have to be patient.”
“To lose 20-8 in faceoffs and win the game… says a lot about this team.”
Unlike in previous seasons, in 2015, faceoff men are required to place their sticks down before the ball is even put on the center X. The official then examines their stick placement to ensure they’re legally placed before setting the ball on the X.
While to many the change might insignificant, facing off is all about rhythm, and when you’re forced to completely change that rhythm to the tune of new rules, it’s easier said than done.
“Honestly for me it’s been kind of tough. I’m still adjusting,” Kelly said. “You’re down in your stance for a lot longer (now). (Referees) are going to be keeping you down there for at least 10 seconds which can be tough just sitting in that position for a while. That’s been the biggest aspect of it. ”