Unpredictable zone proves beneficial to 'Cuse

Syracuse women's lacrosse assistant head coach Regy Thorpe explains the zone's success. Find out what he said inside.

Predictable, a word that Syracuse assistant coach Regy Thorpe prefers not be used when it comes to describing the women's lacrosse team's bread and butter – the zone backer.

The defense, which debuted in its entirety against Towson, has taken on a life of its own since then and has made offenses go into tizzies. Teams are often overwhelmed and turnovers are plentiful in the midfield.

"We are constantly tweaking it," he said. "A lot of teams have a backer; we just try and do our thing."

Thorpe reiterated the adjustments simply stem from the team's time in the film room, watching tape on its opponents and making note of certain tendencies. However, he credits depth and recruiting the true testament to this type of defense.

"It definitely adds value for our defense," he said.

If you have ever been to a Syracuse women's lacrosse game, one will notice constant substitution, kind of similar to the men's game in that respect. The team currently runs eight to nine defenders and two midfield lines. The reason for the rotation, Thorpe says, is to keep the team fresh and to avoid fatigue.

The defenders, which include the Block sisters, Becca and Linley, Natalie Glanell, Kasey Mock, Liz Harbeson, Maddy Huegel, Caz-Marie Norwich and Mallory Vehar make up the defensive unit while the offense is rounded out by two midfield lines of Katie Webster, Bridget Daley, Amy Cross and Kelly Cross, Erica Bodt and Brenna Rainone.

"It's tough to play high pressure D and do a ride if you're only running one midfield line and only four defenders."

He continued, "The girls are really buying into it. They are preparing well and we know our opponents well. The great thing about them is they are very coachable. They don't take anything personable. We feel like we have a great learning environment. That's how [coach] Gaits' style is. "

The zone backer and pressure ride have accounted for a lot of the Orange's scoring throughout the season, something that Thorpe finds very satisfying.

"It's just the mindset," he said. "[coach] Gait and [Katie] Rowan have done an outstanding job on the offensive end. Brett Queener, our goalie coach, adds a lot of value to the defense. He is a great-minded pro player. It's been great."

Syracuse is confident that by the time the NCAA tournament comes around that it will have already have seen most of the offensive sets that the teams are going to do.

"We started to use the backer a lot so teams won't go into the stall against us," Thorpe said. "We have about four to five backer sets that we use. We are certain that we aren't going to be predictable."

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