Not all of the offensive punch in John Carroll's field hockey team comes from experience.
The Patriots have nine seniors in their starting lineup, but their attack also is getting a boost from a new scoring rule. The change allows goals to be scored on shots from within the 25-yard line rather than only from inside the striking circle.
The Patriots (5-3-1 overall, 3-1 league) have taken full advantage of the rule. In 11 games last year, the Patriots scored eight goals in 11 games and had only 56 shots on goal.
Through the first nine games of this year, the Patriots had scored 11 goals and taken 90 shots.
John Carroll coach Karen Bonsack said, "It spreads out the play a little bit more. You get a lot more clean shots rather than the ball going off a lot of sticks inside the circle."
The Association of Independent Schools is the only high school league in the state using the rule, said Janet Welsh, rules interpreter for the state public schools hockey tournament. Other leagues stuck with the rule requiring that the ball touch an offensive player's stick within the striking circle before a goal can count.
Bonsack, a former John Carroll hockey player, supported the rule change, adopted by the AIS coaches on an experimental basis. She said she will vote to retain the rule next year.
"In what other sport are you confined to where you can shoot?" asked Bonsack. "This rule opens up so many more (scoring) opportunities."
Tuesday, the Patriots used the new rule to set up one scoring opportunity after another. They outshot St. Timothy's, 17-4, en route to a 2-0 AIS B Conference victory.
Rumsey Gilbert had a goal and an assist. Jennifer Weiland scored the second goal.
Weiland's goal was set up by a shot from outside the circle. St.
Tim's goalie, Julie Mace, kicked the ball away. Gilbert intercepted the ricochet and crossed it to Weiland for the goal.
"(The new rule) gives you more power," said Gilbert. "You can get in to the goal and start playing for the goal faster. It keeps the ball in there longer too because the goalie has to play it."
Under the old rules, goalies would not play a ball hit from outside the circle unless it touched an attackers' stick. Kicking the ball out gave the opposition a chance to score, but letting it go into the cage resulted in a turnover.
Now, the goalie must play the ball. Since she cannot pick the ball up or cover it, she can only block or kick which sends the ball back out into play giving the offense another chance to shoot.
Some of the Patriots' big hitters in the midfield, especially Weiland, Ann Coale and Melanie Dippel, now have more chances to score. In the past, some of their best hits had gone into the cage untouched.
With the midfield more involved in the offense, the Patriots have had a little trouble with their transition game.