This is part of a continuing series counting down the top Philly lacrosse stories of 2009
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/11/10
The 2009 scholastic season brought a new excitement to players and fans as the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) sanctioned both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse for the first time.
The addition of lacrosse as a PIAA sport created many changes to the structure for both boys and girls, including district and state tournaments.
The boys had previously been playing under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association, and all Philly-area schools played under the Eastern region. Known as the EPSLA, a Philly-area champion had always been crowned and was considered a true Philly champ because every school in Southeastern Pennsylvania was eligible.
The EPSLA champion then went on to face the winner of the Central and Western regions for the Keystone Cup. The last state champion under this format became La Salle, of the Philadelphia Catholic League. In 2009, the Catholic League entered the PIAA, making only schools from the powerful Inter-Ac League ineligible to compete for state gold.
In 2009, La Salle, the District 12 champion, emerged as the first PIAA champion, defeating District 1 champion Conestoga for the crown, 7-3, at HersheyPark Stadium.
The girls’ landscape also changed in 2009. Previously, Philly’s PIAA member schools participated in District 1 tournaments at the Class AAA (large-school) and Class AA (small-school) levels. There was no state tournament, but it was generally accepted that District 1 winners were considered state champions in their respective classes because of the power ratings of the Philly teams.
In 2009, Radnor claimed the inaugural state title by handling fellow Central League rival Strath Haven, 20-10, in the finale at HersheyPark Stadium. The game was held before the boys’ final and more than 1,000 fans traveled to Hershey to see the four Philly schools shoot for history.
Radnor, which had won the final class AAA crown in 2008, did not win the District 1 title, That was captured by another Central League team, Springfield-Delco, which snapped Radnor’s 44-game win streak in the title game with a 14-9 triumph. In District 12, Archbishop Carroll toppled Archbishop Wood, 16-8 to earn its ninth straight league title.
The PIAA had announced that it plans to expand the state tournasment to two classes when the number of teams reaches 200 in the state. Heading into 2010, there are slightly over 150 PIAA schools playing lacrosse for both boys and girls.