By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.conm, Posted 10/8/15
The PIAA voted Wednesday night in Mechanicsburg to expand its state boys’ and girls’ lacrosse tournaments to two classifications beginning in the 2017-18 cycle.
A first vote on the matter (which usually requires three sessions of votes) was passed in July at the summer PIAA Board of Directors’ meeting. That vote was taken after a recommendation by the PIAA lacrosse steering committee.
On Wednesday protocol for a second vote was suspended and a final vote was immediately taken. By a vote of 23-7, the move to two classes was accepted along with proposals to expand baseball, softball and basketball (to six classifications), girls’ volleyball and boys’ and girls’ soccer (four) and field hockey (three).
With the two-class system, there would be a small-school (Class AA) and large-school (Class AAA) tournaments. PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi said that the exact numbers used to determine the split for the classifications would be set before the December board meeting.
Melissa Mertz, the Associated Executive Director of the PIAA, said during the summer that each tournament field would have 16 teams – the same number that qualified for the single-class tourney held since the PIAA began sanctioning lacrosse in 2009.
Mertz said it had always been expected that once the total number of boys’ and girls’ teams in the state reached 200 that the sport would have two classes. Currently, there are 208 girls’ teams and 198 boys’ teams in the state, well up from between 125 and 135 teams for each gender in 2009.
The PIAA uses two-year cycles when determining state brackets and this most recent cycle ends in 2016.
Mertz said during the summer 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.
Harriton Athletic Director Thomas Ferguson, a member of the District 1 lacrosse steering committee, said during the summer that all parties recommended the two-class system.
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.