They are more fundamentally sound. That’s what it boils down to. When I ask people out here, coaches and players alike, how they view their east coast counterparts, the big difference they notice is that the players and teams do the little things right. They seem to move the ball around effortlessly and are able to work better as a unit.
But people recognize that there is indeed top talent out here, both individually and at the team level. West coast players can go to the east coast recruiting camps and rise to the top, surprising hotbed players and breaking stereotypes. And the premier teams from the west can go head to head with the top teams from the east, but beyond those top 3 or 4 teams per state, the depth simply isn’t there. In the conferences on the east coast, a #15 team could upset a #3 team on any given day, certainly a big win for the underdogs but not the first of its kind. This type of upset never happens on the west coast.
What kids out here lack is the exposure to the game at an early age from good coaches. While the game is exploding in places like Colorado and California and has become more and more available to young kids eager to feel the stick in their palms, it’s just not the same level of game. High school coaches continuously show frustration with incoming freshman that have terrible habits and lack a fundamental knowledge. They’ve played 3-5 years of youth lacrosse under dedicated and well-meaning fathers who have unfortunately never played the sport at a high level, if at all. Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, I had former D1 players coaching me at the youth level.
Elite brands of the game can be found in pockets out west, but there is still a long way to go before we can match the depth of the east, and people tend to recognize that pretty readily.