By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/14/22
Melissa Mertz, the Associate Executive Director of the PIAA, told Phillylacrosse.com in an exclusive interview that the date of Saturday, June 17, 2023 for next spring’s championship games at Penn State’s Panzer Stadium may be changed.
It was announced in the summer that the four Class AA and AAA championships were being moved to Panzer Stadium for 2023-2026 after seven years (six tournaments) at West Chester East.
A major reason for the change, Mertz said, was to capitalize on the popularity and central location of Panzer Stadium. Also, Mertz said the move to the central region of the state provides more opportunity and exposure for fans from other regions to attend. She noted that in 2022 Mars (boys’ AA) became the first team from the Western region to win a PIAA crown.
Also, the move to Penn State, she said, is part of a “spring festival” type atmosphere since PIAA baseball, softball and volleyball tournaments are being held that weekend at University Park.
There have been, however, many concerns expressed to the PIAA that the June 17 date, a week later than in the past, conflicts with the summer lacrosse recruiting schedule. Indeed, Mertz said she was aware that many major tournaments and showcases are held that weekend as the unofficial start of the summer recruiting season.
Mertz said “discussions will be held in the coming days” to consider moving the lacrosse title games to Thursday or Friday at Panzer Stadium. She also noted that the softball and baseball finals are held Thursday and Friday.
These discussions will be held before the next PIAA board meeting on Oct. 11.
Mertz also addressed further the move to Panzer Stadium, acknowledging that the District 1 and District 12 teams from the Philly region have long dominated the PIAA championships. She noted, though, that moving the state finals to optimal venues was good for the growth of the sport.
“I know we are going to lose some fans – those that don’t have a team that come right there because Philly is a hotbed for lacrosse,” she said. “But it was too hard to pass up this beautiful facility.
“Anytime you can take your tourney to a level of that stadium, it’s an opportunity to try to highlight championship teams.”
Mertz confirmed that the PIAA lacrosse schedule was moved up a week for official games. Practices can begin on Monday, March 6, 2023 and the first games can be played on Friday, March 17. That’s a week earlier than in the past. Also, district tournaments can end as late as June 3. Since the PIAA began sanctioning lacrosse in 2009, district tourneys had to be completed by the Sunday before Memorial Day.