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Late October means cooler weather, earlier sunsets and the Halloween season.

It also means it's a time of great excitement for high school athletes around the area.

The District 3 playoffs for field hockey and soccer (both boys and girls) are almost here.

The district brackets for field hockey were officially unveiled Thursday, Oct. 19. In total, there will be eight York-Adams programs competing across the three classes. All first-round contests will be played on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

In Class 3-A, there was a real possibility that no York-Adams team would qualify in the 10-team bracket. Central York (12-5-1) won the Division I crown but nearly missed the draw after a loss to New Oxford (12-2-2) and a tie against Red Lion (10-4-3).

Luck, however, was on the Panthers' side. Exeter Township dropped below Central, which moved into the No. 10 spot in the final week.

While making districts is reason to celebrate for coach Lori Livingston and her squad, the 3-A draw is packed with heavyweights. The Panthers will face No. 7 seed Lower Dauphin in a first-round contest at John Frederick Field in Mechanicsburg at 7 p.m. The winner gets No. 2 seeded Wilson (17-0-0) in the quarterfinals.

Three teams qualified in Class 2-A, two of which will meet in the first round. New Oxford claimed the No. 5 seed and will take on South Western, the No. 12 seed, at York Suburban High School at 7 p.m. Susquehannock, the No. 9 seed, will square off against No. 8 Lampeter-Strasburg at Milton Hershey High School at 7 p.m.

The best chance for a local team to break through the District 3 playoff wall is in 1-A, where four local squads made the 14-team draw. Bermudian Springs claimed the No. 2 seed in the bracket. The Eagles will have a bye into the quarterfinals.

Hanover, the No. 5 seed, will take on rival Littlestown, the No. 12 seed, at Suburban at 5 p.m. The other York-Adams team in the field is Kennard-Dale, the No. 14 seed. The Rams will take on No. 3 seeded Tulpehocken at 5 p.m. at Lower Dauphin Middle School.

Soccer: While the soccer brackets will not be official until Friday, there appears to be at least 17 teams from the York-Adams League that qualified for the District 3 playoffs (seven girls, 10 boys). There are four others that are close but just outside the cut line as well.

On the girls’ soccer side, defending PIAA Class 1-A champion Fairfield (15-2-0) is atop the power ratings in 1-A.

Delone Catholic (12-3-0), which upset the Green Knights during the regular season, is third in the 2-A ratings. Biglerville (9-9-0) is rated 10th, which would just qualify the Canners in the 10-team draw.

As it stands now, Susquehannock (14-4-0) and Northeastern (11-5-4) will match up in the first round in Class 3-A. That would be a rematch of a first-round league playoff match, when the Bobcats defeated the Warriors, 2-1. Susquehannock, however, would host that contest, since it is rated eighth right now, while Northeastern is currently ninth.

In 4-A, Central York (15-4-1) and Dallastown (10-7-3) are sitting at 10th and 11th, respectively.

Red Lion (9-9-0) is just on the outside of the 16-team 4-A bracket. The Lions are 17th. In 3-A, Gettysburg (10-8-0) is similarly on the outside looking in. The Warriors are 18th in the power ratings.

On the boys’ soccer side, Central York (17-2-0) appears to be a lock to take the No. 1 seed in the 16-team 4-A bracket. After dominating throughout the regular season, the Panthers are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to West York in the York-Adams playoffs.

Both South Western (12-8-0) and Dallastown (8-10-1) appear to be in the 4-A bracket right now. The Mustangs sit 11th while the Wildcats are 16th.

In 3-A, it appears that three teams are locks right now. Susquehannock (20-1-0) is No. 2, with Gettysburg (No. 5, 12-4-1) and Kennard-Dale (No. 14, 8-6-2) also among the top 16 teams in the ratings.

Biglerville (15-3-1) is a lock in the 10-team 2-A bracket. The Canners are fifth. Eastern York (6-10-2) also appears to be in. The Golden Knights are ninth.

In 1-A, both Fairfield (11-5-1) and York Catholic (9-7-0) are in. The Green Knights are sixth while the Irish are ninth.

Northeastern (8-10-2) and Hanover (10-6-0) are on the outside of the 3-A and 2-A draws, respectively. The Bobcats are 17th in 3-A while the Nighthawks are 11th in 2-A.

First-round soccer contests will take place on Monday, Oct. 23, and Tuesday, Oct. 24.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

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