NCAA Women’s Lacrosse National Championship: ESPN To Integrate Goal Cams Into Broadcast for the First Time

Studio show from Bristol will round out this weekend’s production efforts in Cary, NC

The queens of women’s college lacrosse will be crowned this weekend at the 2024 Women’s Lacrosse National Championship at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The broadcast will feature a tech setup similar to that deployed for the concurrent 2024 Men’s Lacrosse National Championship in Philadelphia but will debut Goal Cam inside the net at each end of the turf.

“These POV cameras will provide an interesting perspective for fans watching at home,” says John Kettering, producer, ESPN. “We’re excited about adding this wrinkle into our broadcasts.”

Skycam will return to the Women’s Lacrosse Semifinals and National Championship in Cary, NC.

Inside the Netting, Above the Action: In Addition to Goal Cams, Aerial System Is on Tech Map

The action on the women’s lacrosse tournament begins tomorrow with a pair of semifinal matchups on ESPNU: No. 1 Northwestern vs. Florida at 3 p.m. ET and No. 2 Boston College vs. No. 3 Syracuse at 5:30 p.m. WakeMed Soccer Park — a complex of fields featuring WakeMed Soccer Stadium and located about 23 miles from host school University of North Carolina — offers more surrounding space to work with than Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, which is hosting the men’s tournament. Although the venue has a relatively small seating capacity, extra room for additional technologies enables a production quality on par with the men’s tourney in the City of Brotherly Love.

“The only thing that’s different at the women’s tournament,” notes Kettering, “is that the aerial camera system has to perform a little bit differently due to the way that the stadium is laid out.”

The biggest addition to this year’s tech arsenal is the Goal Cam, a POV camera attached to the inside piping of each net on the field. Seen in soccer and hockey coverage and similar to basketball’s above-the-rim view, this camera angle will give viewers another vantage point on the goalie’s technique and where the ball enters the net.

Remote Studio Shows: Bristol To Handle Both Women’s and Men’s Editions

The live game broadcasts for both the women’s and men’s tournaments will be supplemented by studio programming from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT. The women’s side will be highlighted by host Drew Carter and analyst Rachael Becker DeCecco; the men’s, host Chris Cotter and analyst Matt Ward. When the tournament reaches Championship Sunday for the women and Championship Monday for the men, each studio show will relocate to the respective host city.

In addition, the shows will be supported by staffers working remotely. “We always have our support staff in Charlotte that are working during the games,” adds Kettering. “We do take the opportunity to send some of our production assistants and content associates onsite to get a feel for what it’s like to be on a big-stage production, but they also will be doing their responsibilities from onsite.”

Sheehan Stanwick-Burch and Jay Alter will be joined by Charlotte North and Dana Boyle on the call.

For the women’s tournament, all three games — the semifinals and the championship —will be called by Jay Alter, Sheehan Stanwick-Burch, Charlotte North, and Dana Boyle. For the men’s, they will feature Anish Shroff, Quint Kessenich, and Paul Carcaterra.

On a major production like the Women’s Lacrosse National Championship, the production crew has a tight-knit bond with the dedicated operations teams. Whether for this weekend in Cary or the months-long regular season, communication and collaboration is imperative.

“The interconnectivity of the content creators and the technical expertise of operations allows us to continuously push boundaries in storytelling,” says Ericka Galbraith, coordinating producer, ESPN. “Like any relationship, ours is built on communication and trust. We have to know each other’s capabilities and limitations, and the only way to establish those is through consistent communication not only during seasons but well before.”

A Sport on the Rise: Women’s Lacrosse Receives Increased Coverage

Over the years, the game of lacrosse has seen increased participation by athletes around the country. With television coverage on networks like ESPN and digital streaming outlets like ESPN+ increasing, casual sports fans have greater access to the sport than ever before. Since Kettering’s arrival at ESPN in 2002 and the introduction of ESPNU on March 4, 2005, as a hub of collegiate athletics, the sport has continued to grow.

“Our coverage of the sport wasn’t as robust as it is now, ,” he says, “but, once ESPNU was created, I became very involved with the lacrosse that we were producing. I started worked on it as a production assistant, and now this will be my 15th National Championship as a producer.”

A look at WakeMed Soccer Park Stadium during last year’s title game.

Overall, audiences have been interested in watching top-class college lacrosse. With a combined effort to elevate both the women’s and men’s game, the broadcast product continues to improve annually.

“Year over year,” notes Galbraith, “we push ourselves to provide the best possible coverage to viewers. Because Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse falls under one production and leadership team, we are in position to offer next-level enhancements more seamlessly for both tournaments.”

Friday’s semifinals will be followed by the Women’s Lacrosse National Championship on Sunday, May 26 at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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