By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.conm, Posted 7/30/15
The PIAA has taken the first step toward expanding its state boys’ and girls’ lacrosse tournaments to two classifications.
A first vote was passed last week at the summer PIAA Board of Directors’ meeting to move to a system of Class AA and AAA divisions. The vote was taken after a recommendation by the PIAA lacrosse steering committee.
If the two-class proposal is passed, it is probable that beginning in 2017 there would be a small-school (Class AA) and large-school (Class AAA) tourney.
Melissa Mertz, the Associated Executive Director of the PIAA, has said several times in recent years during interviews that two classes would be strongly considered when the total number of teams in the state reached 200 – as it has in all sports. Currently, there are 208 girls’ teams and 198 boys’ teams in the state, well up from between 125 and 135 teams for each gender when the PIAA first announced it would sanction the sport in 2008 (for the 2009 season).
Mertz said today in an interview the board will meet again in October to go over the proposal and could decide then to accept the proposal or vote on it in December. In the meantime, she said, the PIAA will collect enrollment numbers and prepare possible bracket proposals based on both one and two classifications.
The PIAA uses two-year cycles when determining state brackets and this most recent cycle ends in 2016. For 2017, she said that the brackets also could be changed to accommodate the powerful District 1 teams.
This year the top four District 1 seeds were in the same half of the bracket and Mertz said discussion was made to address that for the next cycle. Much discussion was made when once again the state finalists were from District 1 in the girls’ tourney; while also in the boys’ tourney the four District 1 semifinalists had to play each other in the second round.
Mertz did say – as she has said in the past – that the district steering committees do have the opportunity to address how the brackets have been prepared and that there has been opportunities for them to ask for changes in the matchups and how they are made.
“That was discussed and some legitimate points were made,” she said of the topic of District 1 teams having to play each other so early in the state tourney. “It will probably be a little bit easier (to address) if we go to two classes.”
Mertz also said the state would probably keep the 16-team format for the state tourney, meaning the number of teams that gain state berths would double.
Harriton Athletic Director Thomas Ferguson, a member of the District 1 lacrosse steering committee, said he thought the next step would involve a second vote and also discussion on the subject by each district before a final vote would be taken.
“We knew it was on the horizon and it seems like the logical thing since all the other sports have multiple championships,” said Ferguson. “This would give other teams the chance to win a championship which is nice of the smaller schools.”
Ferguson said the continued growth of lacrosse may not be seen in District 1, but it occurring around the state and in District 1 (Public League).
“I think it is continuing to grow in the city and it’s inevitable that it would spread around the state because it is growing everywhere,” he said.
Mertz said last year during an interview with Phillylacrosse.com that the classes would be determined enrollment size