The objective of each team in lacrosse is to score more points than the opponent. Because it is such a fundamental part of the game and determines the ultimate outcome, scoring and associated actions within the attack goal area have specific rules. In this tutorial, we will cover the basic rules of scoring, highlight the ways that overtime scoring, Major League Lacrosse and women's lacrosse depart from these basic rules, and cover the key statistics that are tracked for scoring and shooting.
In general, each goal counts as one point for the offensive team. To count as a goal, the ball must cross completely over the plane of the goal, which is between the goalposts and underneath the crossbar. It does not matter who touched the ball last for a goal to count; if the defense or goaltender makes an errant pass or the ball ricochets off a defender's stick into the goal, it still counts as a point for the offense.
To score, the attack creates opportunities for a player to have an open shot on goal by cutting, passing, feeding and driving. The goaltender attempts to save the ball before it crosses the plane of the goal.
The shot clock tracks how much time the offensive team has remaining to take a shot on goal. In men's field lacrosse, the shot clock is 80 seconds from the time the offensive team gains possession of the ball, and the offensive team must have the ball within their offensive half within the first 20 seconds of the 80-second shot clock. In indoor lacrosse, the shot clock is 30 seconds from the time the offensive team gains possession. Women's lacrosse does not use a shot clock, but rather a possession clock.
A scorekeeper sitting at the table area keeps track of the score.
The disallowed goal in lacrosse is a goal that is scored but called back after review from the official. Goals may be disallowed because for various reasons, including a personal foul, illegal crosse pocket or because the shot was taken after time elapsed. This is also known as a lost goal.
In Major League Lacrosse, certain goals count for two points instead of one. The two-point goal in lacrosse is a goal that is scored by a player with both feet behind the two-point arc when the ball is shot. The two-point arc is at a farther distance from the goal, requiring an accurate and powerful perimeter shot. The degree of difficulty is higher, hence the added scoring bonus. This rule only applies to Major League Lacrosse.
In general, women's lacrosse scoring rules are the same as men's lacrosse. Each goal counts as one point. Where the games differ is on penalty shots and post-goal procedures. Certain penalties that occur in the critical scoring area result in a free position shot on the eight-meter arc. After each goal is scored in women's lacrosse, the attacking player who shot the ball and scored must immediately drop their stick so that the referee can conduct a stick check. The referee places the ball in the stick pocket to ensure that the pocket depth does not exceed the allowable level; the official must be able to see the top of the ball over the side wall of the stick head.
The scoring rules change during the overtime period. In overtime, the first team to score a goal is immediately declared the winner. This creates a heightened intensity for both the offense and defense. In collegiate play, teams play as many four-minute intervals as necessary to decide the winner with two-minute breaks in between each period. In indoor lacrosse, the length of each overtime period is 15 minutes.
There are several statistics related to scoring. Points per game is a statistic that measures the offensive strength of a team. It divides the number of points scored by the total number of games in the season. Shooting percentage is a measurement of a player's accuracy. The shooting percentage is calculated by the number of goals scored divided by the number of shots on goal. The goals against average (GAA) in lacrosse is a statistic that measures the number of goals allowed divided by the number of minutes in regulation play. It is calculated by multiplying the number of goals allowed by the number of minutes played divided by the number of minutes played. It is a measurement of defensive ability.