Scotland Women’s lacrosse team are relishing the opportunity to perform at the highest level of their sport, as they compete in the top bracket at the FIL Rathbones Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Guildford, Surrey.
Following a sixth-place finish at the 2013 World Cup, Scotland join the five top-ranked teams – USA, Canada, Australia, England and Wales – in the elite Pool A. Head coach Dave Simpson is optimistic that Scotland can punch above their weight against the best in the world.
“We have an outstanding mix of experienced players and fresh talent, testament to the quality and depth in the Scotland set-up," he said.
"They are all playing at the top of their game as a cohesive unit, and I think we can give any opponent in the tournament a challenging run.
“We're very excited by the challenge of competing against the world's best, and we're geared up to surprise some of the perennial favourites in international lacrosse.”
Scotland’s campaign gets under way on Thursday as they take on defending champions and seven-time gold medallists USA. Their ranking from pool play will determine which Championship bracket team they face in the quarter-finals.
The 2017 World Cup will bring the sport to a new audience in the UK, with the BBC broadcasting games live on the BBC Sport website from the quarter-final stage onwards.
As this is the first time that lacrosse has been broadcast free to air in this country, the team are excited about what this means for their sport. Ailsa Stott, who captains the team alongside Emma Economou and Emily Knight, said:
“As a squad, we are incredibly excited that some of the World Cup matches will be shown on the BBC.
"It's a massive opportunity to showcase lacrosse and women's sport in general, and for us to show the world how far Scotland has come with our lacrosse programme.
“We've all grown up watching the BBC's great sports coverage – it is the first time that lacrosse will be broadcast live on British television, and to be a small part of this is a fantastic opportunity. We can't wait to see ourselves in high definition!"
A spokesperson for the BBC said: “It’s great to be able to offer a platform to lacrosse as part of our strategy to increase the amount of live sporting events we stream on the BBC Sport website. Viewers will be able to access the coverage from the quarter-finals onward via the BBC Sport website and BBC Sport App.”
Growing the game
Lacrosse – known as ‘the fastest game on two feet’ – has usually been regarded as something of a minority sport in Scotland, but has seen significant growth in recent years, with Lacrosse Scotland reporting a 44 per cent increase in female members in the past five years.
Increase in female Lacrosse Scotland members since 2012
Increase in total Lacrosse Scotland membership (male & female) since 2012
While rules of the men’s and women’s game differ, the objective is the same – players use their ‘crosse’ (a long stick with a net pocket at one end) to pass a small rubber ball to their teammates in order to shoot into the opponents' goal. Players may run with the ball in their stick, but can be tackled by the opposition by hitting the ball carrier’s stick with their own stick to turn over possession.
The game is fast-paced, with strong stick skills, quick footwork and stamina being important attributes for players, while teamwork, communication and strategic play are key factors in a successful team performance.
In attack, play is often ‘settled’ while the offensive players try different tactics to break through the opposition’s defence and score a goal, but swift transitions in the midfield mean that goals can be scored in a matter of seconds – in a typical game of 60 minutes, the total score often averages at around 20 goals, making it an exciting sport for spectators.
Aiming high: in pictures
Scroll to see Scotland Women's lacrosse in training ahead of the 2017 World Cup (Credit: Adam Clarkson)
St Andrews – the home of lacrosse?
A little-known fact is that the women’s game has its roots in Scotland – it was first played at St Leonards School in St Andrews, Fife, in 1890.
The school’s first headmistresses, Louisa Lumsden and Francis Dove, had visited Canada in 1884 and watched the traditional men’s game – which originated as a game between Native American tribes – and later introduced a version of lacrosse to their pupils.
The game then spread to other girls’ schools in the UK, and a former pupil, Rosabelle Sinclair, later introduced the girls’ game to schools in the United States.
Rules and equipment have developed and the sport has become popular across the globe. Twenty-five nations will compete in this year’s World Cup, with seven nations – China, Colombia, Mexico, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Switzerland – making their first appearance in the international tournament.
A new goal
As the sport continues its global growth, an exciting development is that women’s lacrosse will feature at the World Games in Wroclaw, Poland later this summer – the first time the sport has featured in an international multi-sports competition, and, it is hoped, a positive step towards the sport’s inclusion at an Olympic Games.
Two Scotland players – Julia Paterson of Edinburgh Thistle and Ailsa Stott of Edinburgh Capital – have been selected for the Great Britain team and are excited to play their part in a historic milestone for lacrosse.
“It is a huge opportunity for lacrosse to be part of the 2017 World Games in Poland, and for us to be able to showcase our sport to so many people," said Julia.
"It is undoubtedly one of the highlights of our lacrosse careers, and we are both really proud to be representing Great Britain.”
President of Lacrosse Scotland, Jane Claydon, is looking forward to an important summer for the sport, and is proud to see the game continuing to grow globally.
“Having organised the first World Tournament which took place at Trent Bridge, England in 1982 when just six teams took part, I am really looking forward to watching Scotland play in the forthcoming FIL Rathbones Women’s World Cup, which will be the 10th World Cup and featuring 25 nations," said Jane.
“There are many talented players in the squad, and we are particularly pleased that Ailsa and Julia have been selected for the GB squad and will participate in the World Games in Poland, where lacrosse will feature for the first time.
“Lacrosse Scotland is proud to be able to say that women’s lacrosse began here in 1890, and to see how the game has grown since.”
sportscotland partnership manager, Alison Lunn, added: “It’s exciting to see the Scotland team competing at the top level of their sport, and we wish them the best of luck in their World Cup campaign.
"The live coverage by the BBC is a fantastic opportunity for the sport to reach a new audience, and a chance to further increase participation in lacrosse in Scotland at all levels.”
Find out more
BBC broadcast schedule
Wed 19 July – 15:00 – Quarter-Final
Wed 19 July – 18:00 – Quarter-Final
Thurs 20 July – 15:00 – Semi-Final
Thurs 20 July – 18:00 – Semi-Final
Fri 21 July – 15:00 – 7th/8th Play-off
Fri 21 July – 18:00 – 5th/6th Play-off
Sat 22 July – 12:00 – Bronze Medal Match
Sat 22 July – 15:00 – Gold Medal Match