The CIF San Diego Section’s Board of Managers revised the playoff structure for boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse.
A unanimous vote Wednesday, Jan. 17, reduced the number of Open Division teams in the playoffs from eight to six. That will result in two fewer teams in the combined Open Division and Division I playoffs, but the Division III playoffs will be expanded from 12 to 16 teams so two additional boys teams and two additional girls teams will qualify for the postseason.
“I think it will result in closer games,” Todd Cassen, assistant commissioner of CIF, said.
Boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse have been CIF San Diego Section sports since 2002. In January 2013, the CIF Board of Managers approved a proposal to replace enrollment-based playoff divisions with divisions based on competitive rankings for each sport. The competitive-based divisions took effect in spring 2013 for baseball, boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse and were applied to the other CIF team sports for the 2013-14 seasons.
The first year’s competitive-based divisions – the first two years for baseball and lacrosse – had the Open Division teams selected prior to the season, and some Open Division schools fared poorer than Division I teams. The June 2014 Board of Managers meeting modified the playoff structure so that the Open Division teams for the playoffs would be selected from among all Division I teams. Initially the top eight teams in each sport participated in the Open Division. The number of Open Division teams for football was reduced from eight to four in 2018.
The boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse playoffs had one division from 2002 to 2010 and added a second division in 2011. The CIF added a third division for the 2023 playoffs. In 2023, The Bishop’s School in San Diego had the top seed in the boys Open Division playoffs and defeated eighth-seeded Coronado in a 10-3 game.
No other boys Open Division games since 2016 between the first and eighth seeds had a victory margin of fewer than 10 points, and the only first-round game during those years between the second and seventh seeds with a difference of fewer than 10 points was the 13-5 game in 2019. The past five girls lacrosse Open Division playoff games between the first and eighth seeds were won by at least 10 points, and four of the past five games between the second and seventh seeds were won by at least eight points.
Under the new format Division I will be reduced from 20 teams to 18. The top two Open Division seeds will have first-round byes. The 12 Division I teams who are not among the six highest-ranked teams will participate in the Division I post-season; the number of teams in the Division I playoffs is unchanged.
Boys lacrosse is played by 57 schools. The reduction of two Division I teams moves Mount Carmel and Valley Center to Division II. Division II will still have 16 schools with Army‑Navy and Helix being moved to Division III. Twelve teams will participate in the Division II playoffs. The increase from 21 to 23 Division III teams will add four teams to that division’s playoffs and eliminate the first-round byes for the four highest-seeded schools.
The 62 girls lacrosse teams include Canyon Crest and Mission Hills high schools, which will be in Division II rather than Division I due to the reduction in Open Division playoff teams. The 20 Division II teams will compete for 12 playoff berths. San Diego and Ramona high schools were moved to Division III, which increased from 22 to 24 teams with 16 of those qualifying for the CIF playoffs.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].