We usually think of breaking the mark as an individual skill, but the structure that surrounds it is often as important as individual brilliance. While there are as many ways to facilitate mark breaking as there are offenses, I have chosen Fury’s system to illustrate this point because of its simplicity and cleanness of line.
Fury’s offense runs out of a cutter-oriented horizontal set and the circumstance I am interested can occur anywhere on the field, but not against a middle force. (Note: This doesn’t necessarily mean force middle. A middle force can occur as part of a one-way mark when the disc is on the non-trap sideline.) An essential part of what is going to happen depends on the handler without the disc setting up behind the mark and even with the disc; with a middle force, the area behind the marker is out-of-bounds.
There are three players involved in this piece of structure: the thrower, a handler even with the disc and a cutter who is operating more or less straight upfield of the thrower. The cutter makes a comeback into the inside-out lane. She will be open. (That’s her job.) If the marker doesn’t put any pressure on the throw, the thrower hits the comeback and the mark is broken. Additionally, the cutter is moving from the open to the closed side of the field, further gaining access to the dead space. If the marker pressures the inside out, the thrower steps around and hits the other handler for the breakside swing. She will be open because the defender will shade upfield at least half a step. Fury does a really nice job of setting up their first handler 8-10 yards from the thrower so that when she catches it she is outside the arc of the defense.
Clip 1 (from Part II): The Inside Out.
Riot transitions into man right at 2:30. After some dinking around, Alex Snyder gets the disc in the middle of the field. (2:42) Behind the mark and even with her is the other handler, Ness Fajardo. When Snyder can’t hit Boscher on the isolation, she turns to the reset. Fajardo is open, but Lorianna Berman on the mark takes it away. As soon as she does, Snyder hits the huge I-O flick to Howard on the doorstep of the endzone.
Clip 2: (from Part I): The Swing.
Shmi picks up the turn around 27:30. Marked by Hannah Kawai, she fakes 5 times before finally taking the swing to Lauren Casey. Casey runs through her own series of fakes and when denied the swing, hits the inside-out.
I actually found it quite difficult to find clean shots of these two scenarios in part because of how thoroughly built into Fury’s system the are. It isn’t very often where the Fury players wait for one option to be shut down and then take the other. Most possessions they take what is given; the trick is that two options are given each time.
Photo of Alex Snyder of San Francisco Fury by Brian Caniff (Ultiphotos.com)