Lacrosse is bursting onto the scene with highlights of high school and collegiate players burying the ball into the back of the net in superior fashion. These scoring highlights have piqued the curiosity of casual sports fans everywhere, causing them to wonder how often goals are scored in lacrosse.
Lacrosse is definitely a high scoring game. It is standard for lacrosse teams to score upwards of 10 goals per game at the competitive tier, which makes for a combined score of over 20 goals on average. These high scores result because the lacrosse community encourages an accelerated style of play.
There are numerous statistics to back up the claim that lacrosse is a high scoring game. In fact, 7 mind blowing statistics that showcase the high scoring nature of lacrosse are posted in the following sections. Trust me, you are going to want to see these stats for yourself!
Statistics that Prove the High Scoring Nature of Lacrosse
1.) Average Amount of Goals Scored Per Game by Individual D1 Collegiate Lacrosse Teams
At the D1 collegiate lacrosse level, the majority of teams easily hit a double digit goal count every game. Players that are able to make the cut for D1 lacrosse are extremely talented individuals. This increase in lacrosse talent across the collegiate sphere ultimately translated into a hefty average of 12.01 team goals scored per game during the 2018-2019 season.
However, there is a noticeably wide range of team goals per game averages at the collegiate level. St. Bonaventure averaged a lowly 6.23 goals per game, whereas Penn St. exploded for an average of 17.94 goals per game during the 2018-2019 season.
This illustrates that although lacrosse is generally considered a high scoring sport, there is still a small chance that the score of a lacrosse game may never breach double digits. These low scoring bouts are statistical outliers that only happen once in a blue moon.
2.) 10 Highest Team Goals Per Game Averages in D1 Collegiate Lacrosse (2018-2019 Season)
|D1 College Lacrosse Team||Goals Per Game Average|
The teams listed above were the cream of the crop in terms of scoring offenses during the 2018-2019 D1 collegiate lacrosse season (source)
These absurd goals per game averages depict the dynamic scoring potential that a lacrosse game can have, even with some of the most talented defenses that lacrosse has to offer.
The data also illustrates that while viewing a 20 goal game in lacrosse is unlikely, it is certainly not out of the question.
3.) 10 Lowest Team Goals Per Game Averages in D1 Collegiate Lacrosse (2018-2019 Season)
|D1 College Lacrosse Team||Goals Per Game Average|
In contrast to the preceding data, the teams listed above lie on the complete opposite end of the spectrum in terms of scoring offenses during the 2018-2019 D1 collegiate lacrosse season (source).
This particular data set exposes the outlier lacrosse games where the scores are not considered “high” relative to other lacrosse games. These goal per game averages are what is considered the bottom of the barrel in terms of lacrosse scores. Nonetheless, the amount of points scored is still moderately elevated relative to certain other sports, such as soccer or hockey.
4.) Highest Amount of Goals Scored by One Player in A Single D1 Collegiate Lacrosse Game
|Player Name||Year||Amount of Goals Scored|
The preceding statistics on this list explicitly illustrate the dynamic scoring potential of lacrosse TEAMS. The statistic above showcases the dynamic scoring potential of a single PLAYER.
Throughout the entire history of collegiate lacrosse, there have been four instances where a player has scored 11 goals in a single game (source). Think about that for a second. One player scoring 11 goals!
If that won’t convince you that lacrosse is a high scoring game, I don’t know what will!
5.) Highest Scoring High School Lacrosse Game Ever
Thus far, most of the statistics have been associated with collegiate lacrosse. This statistic branches out of the collegiate sphere, revealing the dynamic scoring capacity of lacrosse at the high school level.
On May 19, 2017, Brother Rice buried the ball in the back of the net 41 times against Anchor Bay Fairhaven. To give you some perspective on the exorbitant scoring potential illustrated by this record, most high school basketball teams do not even record 41 baskets in a game. A majority of people consider basketball to be the highest scoring game above every other sport.
6.) Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) Team Goals Per Game Averages (2018-2019 Season)
|Premier Lacrosse League Team (PLL)||Average Goals Per Game|
The up and coming professional lacrosse association, the Premier Lacrosse League, falls in line with the preceding statistical trends. Even at the highest level of lacrosse, offenses are still putting the ball past the goalie a minimum of 10 times per game on average (source).
This is no jab at the defenses of these teams. The sport of lacrosse is simply built to be a high scoring endeavor each and every time two teams clash.
7.) Highest Player Goals Per Game Average in D1 Collegiate Lacrosse
The final statistic we will analyze is the highest goals per game average accomplished by a single player in collegiate lacrosse.
Scott Helgans holds this prestigious record, achieving an official season average of 4.83 goals per game. This just further emphasizes the dynamic scoring capacity in the game of lacrosse. One player can validate the claim that lacrosse is a high scoring game all by himself.
Lacrosse Scoring Relative to Other Sports
|D1 Collegiate Sport||Average Score Per Game|
|Basketball||135.8 points per game|
|Baseball||11.28 runs per game|
|Football||60.08 points per game|
|Hockey||5.68 goals per game|
|Lacrosse||24.02 goals per game|
|Soccer||2.6 goals per game|
The data set above lists the average total score per game of a variety of popular sports. The data set proves that lacrosse definitely falls within the higher echelon of scoring relative to other major sports.
Lacrosse ranked third in average score per game behind basketball and football. The average lacrosse score is much higher than the average scores of sports like baseball, hockey and soccer.
Even though the average score of lacrosse games lags behind the average game scores of basketball and football, it is important to note that basketball and football award more points per field goal relative to lacrosse.
For example, basketball awards 2 points or 3 points for every in game field goal that is not shot at the free throw line. Football awards 7 points for touchdowns, 3 points for field goals, 2 points for safeties, and 1 or 2 points depending on the type of points scored after the touchdown.
In collegiate lacrosse, every field goal that is scored is only awarded one point. For this reason, the scores of lacrosse games do not appear as inflated as sports such as basketball and football.
Rationale as to Why Lacrosse Is So High Scoring
There are a couple of prominent reasons as to why lacrosse is so high scoring. The most notable of which are analyzed below.
Rapid Pace Leads to More Possessions
It is standard for lacrosse teams to play at an accelerated pace. The players, coaches, and fans all favor the rapid style of lacrosse that has come to define the sport.
In fact, lacrosse has been nicknamed ‘The Fastest Game on Two Feet’ because of this ridiculously fast pace of play. To learn more about why lacrosse is called ‘The Fastest Game on Two Feet,’ check out my article What is the Fastest Game on Two Feet?
Offenses are extremely methodical about how they dissect opposing defenses. Lacrosse offensive strategy has become so refined over the years that players can typically create a high percentage shot within a span of a minute.
This efficiency has ultimately resulted in short, quick possessions. This trend affords both teams more total offensive shots per game. An increased amount of shots leads to a spike in the total amount of goals scored, which is why lacrosse is the high scoring game that it is.
Emphasis on Transition
The sport of lacrosse also places a heavy emphasis on exploiting transitional opportunities whenever possible.
Whenever there is a turnover or a shot save, teams are always looking to push the fast break. Ball carriers can conveniently travel from one length of the field to the other in a matter of seconds.
In addition, goalkeepers are becoming exceptionally skilled at heaving the long ball to midfielders streaking downfield. Just one long ball that hits a midfielder in stride grants the offense a 10 yard head start on the opposition.
From there, offenses are exceedingly skilled at finishing these 4v3 fast break opportunities. When properly executed, the fast break is the easiest means to run up the score on the opposition.
Defenses are aware of this, yet they cannot stop it. It takes an extremely disciplined lacrosse team to squash any semblance of transitional opportunities after every shot or turnover.
Exhaustion is a major factor in the sport of lacrosse that can drive a team to make mistakes, small or big. Tired defensive personnel are constantly looking to substitute off the field as soon as a shot is saved or the ball is turned over. This chaos favors the offense, which is why fast breaks are so common in the sport.
Inherent Offensive Advantages
Offensive players also have a few inherent advantages that allow them to flourish against even the toughest of defenses.
For one, ball carriers in lacrosse have a substantial amount of space to work with. The dimensions of a lacrosse field are slightly larger than that of a football field. In a 6v6 offensive half set, these field dimensions provide players with plenty of running room to dodge past defenders and clear a path to the goal.
In addition, lacrosse players are able to conveniently accelerate, run at maximal velocity, and change direction at a drop of a dime even when in possession of the ball. Unlike other sports, ball carriers have absolute freedom of movement when it comes to attacking defenders.
In basketball, the court is too crowded and space is too restricted for basketball players to reach terminal velocity in a half court set. In soccer, it is also exceptionally tough to dodge past on ball defenders and retain possession of the ball. The bulkiness of the ball and the excess amount of defenders on the field prevent ball carriers from moving freely.
The colossal size of the field paired with the reduced amount of players on the offensive half set allows for unparalleled player movement. This makes it hard on defenses to keep up with the offense. This phenomenon is reflected in the high scores of lacrosse games.
The Scores of Lacrosse Games Are Only Going to Increase
It is hard to believe that the scores of lacrosse games will be driven up in the future. However, the lacrosse community has installed several new rule changes to ensure that scoring increases markedly within the next couple of years. The specific impact that these rule modifications will have on lacrosse scores is discussed below.
Smaller Substitution Box
The NCAA recently announced that they will be reducing the area of the substitution box. Instead of spanning 20 yards, the substitution box will now only span 10 yards.
Right now, you are probably saying to yourself, “Well that’s great and all… but how does it relate to the score of lacrosse games?”
The substitution box has more of an impact on the score of lacrosse games than you might believe.
It is common for players to sprint to the substitution box when it appears that the opposing team is on the verge of a fast break. By sprinting to the end of the substitution box, another teammate is able to come onto the field at the complete other end of the substitution box. With this substitution strategy, it is almost as if a player magically teleported 20 yards downfield.
This defensive tactic is extremely efficient at cutting off the fast break since it essentially discounts the head start that the offense initially had.
Reducing the length of the box to 10 yards significantly diminishes the effectiveness of this defensive tactic. Rather than magically teleporting 20 yards downfield, a player is now only able to make up a maximum distance of 10 yards.
The thought process behind this reduction in the substitution box is that there will be additional fast break opportunities that will ultimately translate into higher scoring.
Lacrosse fans love to see goals and the NCAA plans to deliver.
Dynamic Crease Play
The NCAA also recently instituted a rule modification regarding play around the crease.
The rule states that players are allowed to leave their feet near the crease if they jump away from the mouth of the goal. It is still illegal for players to jump toward the mouth of the goal. Players that jump toward the mouth of the goal will be penalized, regardless of whether it was intended or not.
This is a revolutionary change in the sport of lacrosse that heavily favors offensive scoring.
Dodgers that prefer to work in close quarters near the crease now have another weapon to add to their scoring repertoire. Ball carriers will be able to deliberately leave their feet and increase the angle of their shot while airborne. Crease scoring probability went up seemingly overnight due to this rule modification.
The institution of this rule change will definitely upset goalkeepers across the lacrosse world, however, the NCAA will almost certainly accomplish its mission of upping the scoring rate.
Establishment of 80 Second Shot Clock
The preceding rule changes will inevitably increase scoring. However, the institution of the long awaited shot clock will singlehandedly up the scoring rate an unfathomable amount.
The creation of the 80 second shot clock changes the very fabric of collegiate lacrosse. This rule change states that teams will have 20 seconds to clear the ball to the offensive zone. These 20 seconds are factored into the 80 seconds that a team is allowed to retain possession of the ball.
If a team is unable to clear the ball once the clock reaches 60 seconds, possession is turned over to the other team. If a team still retains possession when the shot clock reaches zero, possession is turned over to the opposition.
Thus, the amount of possessions that each team will receive inevitably skyrockets. Teams will be forced to be more aggressive and hasten their decision making on the offensive end. This means more total shots per game and more total goals per game.
Relative to all of the other rule changes on this list, this will have the most notable impact on goal scoring. It is an exciting prospect to know that one of the most high scoring sports in the world will only get more explosive in the upcoming years.