A couple months after the inaugural Foothill League boys lacrosse season came to a close, the sport is making headlines across Southern California. On Thursday, the CIF-Southern Section announced in a press release the inaugural CIF-SS Boys and Girls Lacrosse Championships will happen in May 2020.
West Ranch boys lacrosse coach Mike Borsos is pleased with the addition of championships. He thinks the Wildcats, who went 15-3 overall and 6-0 in Foothill League play, could fare well in the 2019-2020 postseason.
“It also gives them a little peace of mind, I mean, we were 15-3 last year and we got a 15-seed in playoffs,” said West Ranch coach Mike Borsos. “That was determined just because of coaches and I think with the new playoff structure, if you win the league you’re in, I think. So I think that they can control their own destiny a lot better than they have done in the past.”
Although lacrosse has been a part of the CIF-SS for a while now, the reason for the creation of division championships is due to the fact that at least 20% of the section’s members must offer the sport.
The Santa Clarita Valley has four varsity boys lacrosse teams in Hart, Saugus, Valencia and West Ranch, while there are two girls teams in Valencia and West Ranch. Saugus is working on developing a varsity girls team.
“I think it’s going to be a huge gain for lacrosse as a whole here in Southern California because up until now, teams like us or even Hart and Valencia, who are not networked with the coaches who are down south or play some of these top tier teams, to make it into the playoffs was nearly impossible,” said Saugus head coach David Steinman.
For example, Hart finished the season 13-6 overall, losing just two league games finishing 4-2 in Foothill League play and didn’t make it into the playoffs.
This was Saugus’ inaugural year of having lacrosse as a sport, finishing 7-9 overall and 2-4 in Foothill League, The Centurions have already seen an increase in interest from playing just one season.
“I went from having 50 kids coming into the fall program to now almost 80, so as a sport at Saugus High School the interest is growing because of what they are seeing and what our boys and girls now are doing,” Steinman said.
The buzz has whirled its way around the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Borsos.
“I think the community embraced it, there’s a lot of buzz in town going on right now with a couple of new coaches at Hart and Valencia,” he said. “It’s really a growing sport here in town and there are over 200 kids in the youth program so I think there’s a lot of buzz in the community and it will continue to grow.”
Valencia hired Ted Emery as their boys lacrosse coach on July 4. Emery has been coaching lacrosse for 22 years and played at MCLA Division 2 Regis University in Denver. Hart is still looking for its head coach as Tony Uebelhardt departed for Castaic High School and will serve as their inaugural head football and lacrosse coach.
The CIF-SS will announce how many divisions there will be this upcoming season, sometime before the end of summer, distributing the 104 boys teams and 94 girls teams into a number of divisions.
“They are talking two or three divisions which are going to open up the playoff structure for a lot more teams,” Borsos said. “In the past, 16 teams from Orange County and 16 teams from LA County would battle down to one on each side and go. Now, we are looking at, depending on how many divisions there are, whether there’s two or three, you are probably looking at 16 to 20 teams in each division making the playoffs.”
The growth of lacrosse in Southern California and the Santa Clarita Valley is now very noticeable and hopefully down the line will become a mainstream sport.
“Having a couple of games a year gives the parents, family and friends the chance to see what a great sport lacrosse is,” Steinman said. “It’s something different to get excited about other than the mainstream sports that we have had in Santa Clarita.”