The biggest challenge facing DE HS lacrosse teams that want to improve, and challenge Sallies for the top spot, is getting rid of non-competitive games from their schedules.
Here is a quick stat to prove the point - take the final 8 teams from this year’s tourney (excluding Sallies) ?
CR Tower Hill Archmere Friends Cape St Marks Charter
These teams played a combined 105 regular season games. Their record against other Delaware teams not in this Top 8? ? 63-0.
The vast majority of these games were not competitive at all. So 60% of the games played by 7 of the top 8 teams in DE in 2012 were one-sided contests that did not benefit either team.
And this is not an isolated trend - this stat has been the same for 6+ years.
How is that good for anyone? How do teams from any level improve by playing lopsided, running clock games in the regular season?
The same goes for the next group of 7 teams:
DMA Polytech Dover AI DuPont St Andrews Sussex Tech Appo
Their record against the rest of Delaware (teams not in the Top 15)? - 56-2. (They were 0-24 against the Top 8).
There is a simple way to fix this, a solution that gives all teams, top to bottom, a better regular season schedule and an incentive to improve each year ?
First, create three groups: Top 8 (excluding Sallies) Next 7 (Teams 9 through 15) Rest of State
In the top two groups, each team plays a home and home series against the other teams in their group (12 games total). The Top 8 group also plays one game a year vs. Sallies (leaving Sallies with 8 openings on their schedule for out of state games or other DE opponents).
Both groups use their remaining 2-3 open dates on their schedule to play traditional rivals not in their group that year.
The “Rest of the State “ schedules 13-14 games against others in their group, leading to a much more competitive regular season schedule. They still have openings for 1-2 games a year against teams from the other two groups.
At the end of each year, drop a few teams down a group, and move a few teams up a group to keep the play balanced going forward and give all teams the incentive to get better and/or stay competitive.
Finally, guarantee every team in the top two groups a spot in the playoffs, and expand the field to 32 teams, so 17 teams from the “Rest of the State” group get a shot. That adds only one round to the playoffs, and since DE dropped to a 15 game schedule 3 years ago from 16, it is not that big of a change.