By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/31/10
That thump of the soccer ball you may be hearing is music to the ears of scholastic girls’ lacrosse coaches.
This year, the Suburban One League has moved girls’ soccer from the spring to the fall. The move was made one year before the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) ordered all spring soccer programs to be moved to the fall so everyone in the state would play in the same season.
For years, the Suburban One and many other schools in the state have played girls’ soccer in the spring, while half of the state played in the fall. That prevented many top female athletes from either starting to play lacrosse at the middle school or youth levels or coming out for lacrosse at the high school level.
Now, girls who play soccer do not have to quit lacrosse in high school, or those who play soccer can decide to play youth or middle school lacrosse knowing they can play it at the scholastic level.
That can only be good news for high school coaches.
“I do feel that the move to soccer in the fall will help get more top athletes out for lacrosse,” said Upper Dublin girls’ lacrosse coach Dee Cross, whose Cardinals won the Suburban One American Conference title the past three years. “I have always supported this move because it aligns with the college schedule.
“The girls play soccer in the fall in middle school and lacrosse in the spring, so it is great now that they can play both when they get to high school. From my experience at Upper Dublin, a lot of the top athletes play soccer in the middle school and then knew they would play soccer in the spring at high school so they didn’t bother pursuing lacrosse as a sport in the spring because they knew there would be a conflict.
“Now, if the girls want to play two sports and really work on their skills, they can start in the youth programs, continue in middle school and be ready for high school.”
Cross hopes teams in the Suburban One League can slowly catch up with the powerful Central League teams.
“I am hoping it will help our program to be able to compete with the Central League, etc. I know some schools in the Suburban One will have instant impact this year, so that is great. I am not sure yet, how it will specifically help UD!
“I can see the movement now in the middle school for the girls to pay more attention to lacrosse to get ready for high school so I think we will see the impact over the next 2 or 3 seasons.”
Plymouth Whitemarsh lacrosse coach Ellen Reilly had mixed feelings because she also coaches field hockey – which now could be negatively impacted by the move of soccer to the fall.
“As a field hockey and lacrosse coach I have mixed emotions,” she said. “But I do believe that soccer being moved to the fall will definitely benefit girls’ lacrosse in the spring.
“Over the years girls have had to choose in the spring between soccer and lacrosse when they played both sports in middle school. I believe the same quality athletes who have good endurance and can run play soccer and therefore will now play lacrosse. I think we will see an effect in play in a few years.
Reilly said soccer players at PW have already told her they plan to play lacrosse.
“I already have a few girls who have been playing soccer in the spring communicate to me that they now want to come out for lacrosse,” she said. “These girls are juniors so they have missed two solid years of skill development, so I do not think they will impact my program right away.
“But if more girls are able to play lacrosse now in the spring and grow with the program I believe the change has potential for the Suburban One League. We might now be able to compete at a fair level with the other leagues that have already been benefiting from having soccer in the fall.”
“Many of the middle schools offer soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring and then when they get to the high school they have to pick whether they are going to go out for soccer or lacrosse,” added Souderton coach Nicole Bauer. “I think it is great for our program.
“We will be able to see an impact shortly because of our youth program. SAGLA spreads the word about lacrosse before the student-athletes get into middle school. It is a great asset to Souderton Lacrosse.”
North Penn coach Jami Wilus – whose Maidens have won three straight Suburban One crows – said many of the top spring athletes have been playing lacrosse. But she feels the change can only help fill lacrosse rosters.
“I think overall the level of play in the Suburban One with the move of soccer to the fall is going to lead to more top athletes playing lacrosse, but it will take some time for this change to really make an impact,” she said.
“For our program, personally, I think it will take a few years. I believe at North Penn we get some of the best athletes our school wanting to play lacrosse already. I think if we target the younger kids, maybe they will pick up lacrosse at a younger age but in terms of an athlete taking up lacrosse as a junior or senior, it would be very difficult for them to catch up with the caliber of players we currently have.”
“I would say that soccer moving to the Fall season will certainly increase the pool of student athletes for the spring sport opportunities,” added Wissahickon lacrosse coach Jamie Donahue. “As for effects, we’ll just have to wait and see. Many of our athletes have been communicating about the soccer switch for sometime.
“Hopefully, girls that normally play a spring sport will continue to enjoy a spring sport and all the benefits that a team has to offer.”