Lacrosse has deep roots in the state of Maryland and is widely regarded as the state’s official sport. High school lacrosse, in particular, has a significant impact on the state’s culture and identity. The sport is deeply embedded in the fabric of Maryland’s communities, with many students growing up playing lacrosse and dreaming of playing for their high school team. While lacrosse is played at high schools across the country, Maryland high school lacrosse has a distinct character and style that sets it apart from other states. The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association plays a major role in fueling this distinct character and style for the state today, but the MIAA can’t take all of the credit as the history of high school lacrosse in the state of Maryland dates back over 100 years.
The History of Maryland High School Lacrosse
The historical roots of lacrosse in Baltimore can be traced back to 1919, with the formation of the Maryland Scholastic Association. This conference was notably distinct from others across the country due to its inclusion of public, private, and parochial schools, all competing against each other. This arrangement allowed inner-city public schools from Baltimore to compete against surrounding county private schools, an uncommon occurrence at the time. Additionally, the Maryland Scholastic Association was notable for its emphasis on fair competition, as schools were able to compete at their appropriate level of competence, relative to their particular sport, without having to rely on school enrollment numbers. These factors contributed to the unique character and significance of the lacrosse scene in Baltimore during this period and the level of impact has evolved with the league over the past 100 years.
In contrast to the boys’ conference, the girls’ lacrosse scene did not have a similar structure, with no conference allowing for competition between public, private, and parochial schools. Notably, the top high schools in lacrosse at the time were all single-gendered, which meant that there was no immediate concern regarding Title IX regulations until this issue was brought to light. As a result of this disparity, the city schools were compelled to withdraw from the Maryland Scholastic Association and instead joined the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) in order to achieve greater parity between boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. In response, the private and parochial schools formed a new conference, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), in 1994, which excluded the public schools from competition. This restructuring of the high school lacrosse scene in Maryland had significant implications for both boys’ and girls’ athletics, as well as for the broader sporting culture of the state.
The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (M.P.S.S.A.A.) employs a system of ranking member school teams based on the student population numbers of boys and girls at each school. In contrast, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) adopted the Maryland Scholastic Association’s approach, which allowed for schools with a proven “track record” and tradition to be classified and ranked according to their level of “power” regardless of their physical size or student body numbers. This led to the creation of the ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ Conferences, with some flexibility for schools to request adjustments based on their specific circumstances. For example, Boys Latin football plays at the B-Conference level, while their lacrosse team competes at the A-Conference level. This stands in contrast to most high school leagues, which base playoffs and postseason play on the size of the school and the conference to which it belongs. Originally, only five Maryland Scholastic Association schools featured A-Conference lacrosse programs, including Boy’s Latin, Calvert Hall, Gilman, Loyola Blakefield, and St. Paul’s. When the MIAA was formed, these five schools were joined by six others, including Archbishop Spalding, John Carroll, McDonogh, Mount St. Joseph, Severn, and St. Mary’s Annapolis which makes up the A-Conference today. While the Maryland Scholastic Association was primarily composed of Baltimore area schools, the MIAA opened doors to other areas in Maryland, and many schools have since become coeducational.
The A-Conference of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has long been renowned as one of the premier high school lacrosse leagues in the United States. It consistently features multiple top-ranked teams and has occasionally boasted the best team in the nation. Winning the MIAA championship is a coveted achievement for every team in the league. Notably, the league has seen a great deal of parity in recent years, with seven different schools claiming the championship title since 2010. Calvert Hall embarked on a historic three-peat run in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Such competitive balance is a testament to the depth of talent within the league, with every school capable of competing at a high level. The 2023 season has shown that the league’s teams are poised to once again showcase the thrilling and competitive lacrosse that has made the MIAA A-Conference such a prominent force in the sport.
MIAA Lacrosse Game of the Week (April 18, 2023)
Game: Mount St. Joseph vs St. Paul’s
Time: 4:00pm EST
Currently with a record of 7-5 overall and 0-4 in conference play, Mount St. Joseph finds themselves in a precarious situation heading into their upcoming game against St. Paul’s. While the Gaels have competed admirably in conference games thus far, they have struggled to finish off games and secure victories. However, there have been some bright spots for the team, most notably the outstanding play of junior goalie Charlie Weisman in their recent matchup against St. Mary’s. Weisman’s heroics kept the game close and he is expected to start in goal once again for the Gaels. Additionally, junior attackman Owen Cooper has been a crucial contributor, delivering clutch goals to keep the team in contention. In the midfield, Mount St. Joseph boasts two established playmakers in Corey Meyers (UMBC) and Jack Spears (Towson). Despite featuring a lineup with multiple experienced players, the team has also received contributions from younger players such as attackman Owen Craney. However, the team faces a critical test in their upcoming game against St. Paul’s, and a loss would all but extinguish their playoff hopes. With the talent on the roster, the Gaels have the potential to compete with any team in the MIAA A-Conference, but they will need to be firing on all cylinders if they hope to emerge victorious.
@Loyola Blakefield (LOSS 8-13)
Severn (LOSS 10-14)
Calvert Hall (LOSS 6-17)
At. Mary’s Annapolis (LOSS 7-11)
St. Paul’s Crusaders currently hold a record of 4-5 with a mixed performance in conference play. Despite losing a close game against Loyola Blakefield, who leads the conference, and squandering a late lead against Calvert Hall, the Crusaders appear to be headed in the right direction under the leadership of Head Coach Steven Settembrino. Settembrino, a former UMBC defensive player, and current defensive coordinator, is in his third season at the helm.One of the mainstays of the Crusaders’ lineup is senior faceoff specialist Daniel Davis, who has been dominant in recent games against Loyola and Calvert Hall. Another key contributor to the team’s offensive output is senior captain Brody Atikinson, a lethal finisher near the net. St. Paul’s midfield lines are deep, boasting two full lines of midfielders, but an injury to Michael Smyth has hampered the team’s output. However, the key to this upcoming game for the Crusaders will be Davis. If he can dominate at the faceoff-x and the offense can limit turnovers, St. Paul’s will be able to maintain momentum. That said, the Crusaders’ young attackmen have struggled at times, which is a potential vulnerability that Mount St. Joseph could exploit in this MIAA Lacrosse matchup.
@Severn (WIN 10-8)
Archbishop Spalding (WIN 13-10)
Loyola Blakefield (LOSS 9-11)
@Calvert Hall (LOSS 11-15)