Spectators watching the Radcliffe lacrosse team at Soldiers Field might find it hard to believe that a game of lacrosse launched one of the worst massacres in American history.
On June 4, 1763 the Sac Indian tribe and the Chippewa tribe were playing a game outside an English fort in Canada. The object of the game was to club--or crosse--opposing players senseless. Amused, the men of the fort came out to watch, leaving the fort unguarded.
Blanket-covered squaws on the sidelines cheered their teams on. Suddenly the players dropped their lacrosse sticks, reached beneath the squaws's blankets, and emerged with tomahawks. Only three of the surprised Englishmen survived.
Radcliffe lacrosse players, however are not quite as rough as Sacs and Chippewas. Women's lacrosse has none of the contact of the men's game.
"Having no contact is good for the nature of the women's game," coach Debbie Field said. "There is a difference in the ways the men and women play. I think there's more skill in our game, but the men hit harder," she said.
"Our game is faster and more graceful," added Laurie Benton, a standout sophomore. "And there aren't any boundaries--it makes it more exciting for spectators because they might get hit with the ball."
Even though getting beaned by a steel and rubber ball is a little too much participation for most people, you should go to a game and see how the Radcliffe program has changed since its inception three years ago. With seven returning lettermen, several freshmen prospects, and the new experience of a spring tour in Virginia, the Crimson is sure to improve on last year's 4-5 record.
The addition of Field should also help the team. An outstanding athlete, she has participated with the U.S. Field Hockey Team for the past six years.
As for lacrosse, her favorite sport, well, she's only been with the national team for four years. This year she turned down first team offers to coach Radcliffe.
"We should do as well as last year, and I think we'll have a winning season," Field said. "There are about ten players that are really good." Benton is more optimistic. "The team looks very promising," she said. "It'll be the best team Radcliffe ever had."
The team's first chance to prove that claim comes this Saturday, when Radcliffe meets the University of Virginia in Woodberrry Forest, Virginia. Field has selected 13 players for the trip, including Benton, Captain Carlene Rhodes, senior Chloe Gavin and five freshmen.
Harsh weather forced Radcliffe indoors for most of February and March, so Field hopes the tour will help condition the team.
Radcliffe will open its season at Pine Manor on April 7 and play its first home contest on April 13 against Tufts. If you go to see the games, don't worry too much about getting hit; the ball has more rubber than steel.
But beware of squaws with blankets.
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