The Special Teams

When one team has more players on the floor

What special teams are there?

When a team is benefiting from an opposing player spending time in the penalty box, that team is on the power play.

The team with the player in the box? They’re on the penalty kill.

Did the referee’s arm shoot straight up in the air but play is continuing? Then there’s a penalty going against the team without possession. That penalty will be assessed if the ball leaves the floor boundaries or possession changes.

The team with possession typically pulls the goalie in this situation and sends out an extra forward on the floor, creating a 6-on-5 situation. This is known as playing with an extra attacker.

This section will go into the basic ins and outs of the three special teams and what it means for them.

Williams in penalty box

Power Play

Benefiting from an opponent being penalized, the team on the power play plays 5-on-4 lacrosse for the next two to five minutes. Teams start their first possession with the ball and face one less defender.

With less pressure, teams roll out their five strongest offensive weapons to try and capitalize on the situation.

Teams typically set up a traditional pentagon formation around the penalty kill square opponents use, getting the defense out of position with passes and picks before taking shots.

Penalty Kill

The team with a player in the penalty box is on the penalty kill, forced to play with just four players for the duration of a penalty.

Teams roll with a square formation – two stronger defenders in the back by the crease and two faster, more transition players at the top of the formation.

Any goal scored by a player while their team is man-down is called a shorthanded goal, and it does not erase the team’s penalty.

In situations where there are two players in the penalty box, the penalized team is playing the wrong side of 5-on-3 lacrosse. A goal scored in this situation by the offending team is considered a super shorthanded goal.

 

Extra Attacker

As mentioned earlier, this play is used to gain a numerical advantage when a penalty call is incoming and benefits the team with possession.

The extra player means that the team can distribute the ball more, and the opposing defense won’t be able to cover all six guys on the floor with their five defenders.

Once the ball goes out of bounds or a defender/goalie gains possession of the ball, then the play is blown dead, and the offending player gets sent to the box.

Teams pull their goalie in this situation to take advantage of the rules. They can have six players on the floor, but there aren’t any rules saying a team can’t have six forwards out there and no goalie.

With a guaranteed whistle coming, there’s no worry about a change of possession resulting in a goal being scored by the other team.

With this in mind, it makes sense to take advantage of the situation, bring the goalie back to the bench, send out the other forward, and try and get one more goal.

If a player scores in this situation, then the penalty is recorded, but the offending player does not serve the penalty in the penalty box, unless it’s a major penalty.

This play also happens at the end of a quarter with around 30 seconds left. Teams will wait until there are just a few seconds left in the quarter before trying to score, try and get one more before time runs out.

Every now and then you will see this when a team is behind and trying to climb back into the game.

Extra Attacker