Lacrosse, like American Football, is played on a large field, however the differences between the two sports are numerous. The ball used in Lacrosse is quite small, so you need a sharp eye to follow it. The helmets worn by the players cover most of their faces with a grid pattern, yet they are still open enough to get good face shots. Action moves up and down the field, with frequent changes in direction, so be prepared to move around, which is easily done with the large sidelines.
The Lacrosse games at the school I shoot at usually start in late afternoon. The late afternoon light allows me to use faster shutter speeds, smaller apertures, and lower ISOs. Lenses like the 70-300 or 80-400 can easily be used, as f/5.6 will not be a problem until the lights have to come on. As the light changes, remember to lower your shutter speed, and/or increase your aperture, so that your ISO does not go too high. Once the lights are on, your best bet for shooting Lacrosse is the 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I would suggest a shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second, but I prefer to shoot at 1/800th or more. For more settings, see my High School Sports Photography Tips article.
You can shoot Lacrosse with one or more cameras. Most people will use a zoom and a prime, or a short and long zoom, but that is not always necessary. I have shot it using a 300 f/4 and an 85 f/1.4 (the 85 f/1.8 will also work well). Using two prime lenses does, however, require more moving around.
Lacrosse starts with a face-off. Two players crouch down and then struggle for possession of the ball. Shots of the face-off are perhaps the easiest to shoot in this sport, and can result in good action sequences.
Lacrosse is a contact sport. Collisions occur, often, and it is not uncommon for players to end up on the ground. The stick is not only used to carry and shoot the ball, but as an implement to knock the ball loose from the opposing players’ stick. Lacrosse is similar to Hockey, except it is played on grass, and there tend to be fewer fights.
A player may get possession of the ball and go end-to-end, which allows you to get great solo shots, or the player may pass the ball to someone else. Getting shots of a pass is easy, while getting shots of the catch is usually more difficult.
Shots on goal are good to get, especially ones that score. While you can shoot from the ends, if you are behind the net in the goal, you are blocked from getting the photo. I prefer to shoot from the sideline, running up and down the field as required. Fortunately you don’t need to run the entire length of the field. This is another sport where you need to be sure to bring a water supply with you. I frequently wear my Camelback when shooting Lacrosse, so I can drink on the run.
I have never used a flash for shooting Lacrosse, and would suggest you check with the officials and schools if you wish to do so. Like Football, however, the distances can be long, so most flash units would not help except for shots close to you.
I have used a D3S, D600 and a D800E for shooting Lacrosse. The new D810 will also work. I normally shoot in CH mode, with lots of short bursts. Single Point AF works best for me. I have yet to test Group Area AF on shooting Lacrosse, however I expect that Single Point will still be best. As with all such sports, there are multiple players moving around, sometimes slightly blocking the player you wish to be focused on, and this can cause the focus system to switch to the other player.
As with other sports, try to get a few sideline shots of the players, coaches and fans. For tips on shooting these kind of photos, see my Sideline Photography Tips article.
Though a lot of work, especially if you move up and down the field, Lacrosse is typically a fairly easy sport to take pictures of. With very little practice you can capture exciting shots. For those who shoot JPGs, I would suggest you shoot NEFs if shooting in poorly lit conditions (night time or backlit), as that will give you the ability to improve the final picture. Good luck, and perhaps I will meet you at the field.