This weekend I was invited by my friend A.Yo to go and watch the quarterfinals of the NCAA women’s lacrosse* tournament where my grad school alma mater Northwestern’s Lady Wildcats** were squaring off against the North Carolina Tar Heels. My first question was “What? They play lacrosse outside the ivy-covered walls of exclusive New England colleges?”, and my second question was “Do they have cheerleaders?”. A.Yo reassured me that yes, lacrosse is played all over the country, and while they don’t have cheerleaders she did say that “sometimes the international students take their tops off when it’s hot out”. In retrospect, this seems to have been a ploy to get me to tag along – but kudos to her for knowing how to motivate me. Anyway, apparently Northwestern is the defending champion – strangely I hadn’t heard anything about this last season. A.Yo played lacrosse for both her high school and college, so she was invaluable to help point out how the game worked – even if she was just as confused by some of the penalties that were called as I was.
The game itself consists of two teams of what seems like about 40-50 people each*** who are all wearing mini-skirts and wielding clubs. Also it seems to be part of the uniform to have your hair in a ponytail, as there were no pigtails to be seen. Other than that the rules are pretty simple – scoop up the ball in your club and then run like a bat out of hades towards the other team’s goal and try to fling the ball as hard as possible directly at the goalie in hopes she will be so scared that she will dive out of the way rather than try to stop it. All the while, the other team members are swiping at you with their clubs, trying to knock the ball out of your club. Therefore it’s usually a good idea to pass the ball to your own teammates, if for no other reason than to buy yourself a few minutes of not being clubbed like a baby harp seal.****
By the time the game had started, I suddenly realized that I was sitting outside on a sunny day with no sun protection and I had forgotten my hat at home. Given that there was a serious lack of shade anywhere around the field***** I realized that I had about 5 minutes before I crossed the “event horizon” from mild burning to full-on skin-cancerpalooza. So in a MacGuyver-esque moment, I whipped off my shirt and used it to create a half hat/half tent that was big enough to protect my head and gave enough shade to shield my arms. This is why layering is not just for winter anymore.
The game went into halftime with Northwestern up by only one goal, but during halftime the NU squad seemingly received a fresh shipment of whoop-ass to crack open and whalloped UNC 14-1 in the second half to win 17-6. The whole experience was pretty darn cool, and hella fun.
Even if the one Canadian girl did keep her shirt on the whole time.
* As someone from the upper midwest, it is nearly impossible to type this word in a non-capitalized form. Damn you Wisconsin!
** Yes, those Lady Wildcats…and all their flip-flop glory. Gotta love ‘em, even if it wasn’t intentional.
*** Although I’m sure it’s probably closer to 10-12
**** NOTE: no actual baby harp seals were harmed in the writing of this simile
***** Not including under the bleachers, since I didn’t want to interrupt any undergrads who might be making out under there