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Playoff path: Making sense of YAIAA lax chase

You take the top spot. No, you take it. I insist, really, you should take it.

The top four boys' lacrosse teams in the YAIAA have been playing out this hypothetical conversation over the last few weeks, passing the No. 1 spot back and forth.

After Red Lion beat Central York on Tuesday, the Lions sat on the throne ... until they fell to Susquehannock two days later. That bunched the Lions, Warriors and Panthers up in a three-way tie atop the league. Then there's York Catholic lurking just a half-game behind.

Right now, there's simultaneous clarity and chaos atop the YAIAA.

Here's what we do know: The four YAIAA playoff teams will be Central York, Red Lion, Susquehannock and York Catholic, with the semifinal locations being Red Lion and Susquehannock. The game sites were set before this fluky scenario played out.

What still needs to be decided is the seeding for all four teams.

Why does it matter? No one hangs banners for regular season titles, anyway, and all four teams make the playoffs.

Right, but it's the quirkiness of the situation that makes this intriguing. How often do you see a three-way tie for first place, and how do you break it?

The most likely scenario right now is that barring a setback, there will be a three-way tie atop the league standings. Central, Red Lion and Susquehannock each have one league game left. York Catholic has two, but one of those is against Central. The Warriors get Dallastown next week while the Lions — who have been on a grueling stretch of seven games in 10 days — host South Western. If both teams win, they'll join either Central or York Catholic in a three-way tie.

So who gets the top spot in the playoffs? While suggestions on potential solutions ranged from listing the teams alphabetically, to using their goal differential, to having them square off in a dance battle (that one was a joke), no one seems to know how exactly to fix this. It's not a common occurrence.

The league's lacrosse committee will meet Monday to decide how to handle the tiebreaker, according to YAIAA Executive Director Chuck Abbott.

"I have never seen a tie like this," York Catholic head coach Shane Harper said. "Normally with two teams being tied, it's easy to see who gets the higher ranking by head-to-head games. I think that this year is very different, and I believe to decide the ranking, you need to use point differential. I personally would only use the first two quarters of the game because some teams slow down towards the end of the game. Moving forward I think if it's only by points scored, you will see a lot more lopsided scores just in the event there would be a tie."

Point differential could be on the table. We'll know more Monday and Tuesday when the committee sheds some light on an unprecedented tiebreaker.

Regardless, our vote is for the dance battle.


Central York (10-3, 8-2)
League games left: vs. York Catholic (5/3)
Situation: Win and clinch at least a share of first place. Lose and fall to third or fourth.

Red Lion (11-4, 8-2)
League games left: vs. South Western (5/3)
Situation: Win and clinch at least a share of first place. Lose and fall to second or third.

Susquehannock (9-3, 8-2)
League games left: at Dallastown (5/2)
Situation: Win and clinch at least a share of first place. Lose and fall to third or fourth.

York Catholic (10-3, 7-2)
League games left: vs. South Western (5/2), at Central (5/3)
Situation: Win both and clinch at least a share of first place. Split them and fall to third or fourth. Lose both and fall to fourth.