Central York boys' lacrosse program hopes to build on last year's historic season

Dallastown's Colin Chapman, left, moves the ball down the field while Central York's Garrison Pate defends during boys' lacrosse action at Dallastown Area High School in York Township, Friday, March 25, 2022. Central York would win the game 11-5. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It’s a tough act to follow.

It would be asking a lot for the 2022 Central York boys’ lacrosse team to match the accomplishments of last season’s historic campaign.

An unbeaten regular-season run through the York-Adams League, an appearance in the District 3 Class 3-A semifinals and a first-ever trip to the PIAA state playoffs capped off a terrific season for the Panthers, who finished 19-2 in 2021.

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The loss to graduation of nine seniors -- including standouts Robbie Wiley (44 goals), Cade Campbell (37 goals), Jerin Williams (25 assists) and goalie Keelan Stroman – certainly won’t make matters any easier.

Coach Ryan Muller and his squad, however, are not about to back down from any challenge. That was evident Friday evening when the Panthers traveled to rival Dallastown and handed the Wildcats an 11-5 defeat in the season opener.

“I think we’re still trying to find our identity of what type of team we’re going to be,” Muller said. “We know that there are some things that we do really well, but there are still a lot of things that we have to figure out.”

One of the areas that the Panthers have excelled at over the past five-plus years has been in the faceoff circle. That again figures to be a strength with the return of Brian McGarvey, who won 80% of his draws a season ago.

A young defense: Keeping the ball away from the opposition figures to help a CY defense that enters the season with a bunch of youth.

“We have a very inexperienced defense,” Muller said. “But to only give up five goals to a pretty good Dallastown team that has a lot of quality weapons on offense, I would have to say that I was impressed by that.”

Muller also pointed out that his offense is still getting adjusted to some new wrinkles that were added to the playbook a week ago.

“We just put in a new offense last week and we know it’s going to take time,” he said. “Our goal, however, is not to win now, but in May and June. We start the season with some of our key guys back, but we have a lot of new guys, too.

“There are a lot of role players from last year that we’re now going to ask to come out and do a lot more. And that’s what we like to see … the kids coming out and stepping up and rising to the occasion.”

One of the guys that Muller can rely on to be the leader of the attack is senior Jimmy Kohr, who who finished with two goals and two assists in the victory over Dallastown. Kohr led the Panthers in scoring with 67 points as a junior while tallying 43 goals and 24 assists.

The Dallastown contest: The schedule-maker may have provided the Panthers with both a blessing and curse by pitting CY and Dallastown against each other in the opener. While both sides figure to improve greatly as the season progresses, any type of rematch wouldn’t come until playoff time.

“They’re big and fast and athletic,” Muller said of the Wildcats, who finished third in the Y-A League a season ago. “And they’re coached well with Scott (Thoman) over there now. And we’re one of the bigger, stronger, tougher teams out there, so it was nice to go against a team that can really match up with us like Dallastown can. They made us work and it wasn’t easy for us.”

Big goals: Muller intends to get his team ready for a run that everyone on the Central side hopes will result in the program’s first-ever District 3 3-A title. After falling to Hempfield in the semifinals a season ago, the motivation to take it one step further resonates with Muller and his squad.

“We didn’t win that one tough one against Hempfield, but other than that we competed all year long and played a good game in states (a 13-5 loss to Radnor),” Muller said. “We were a little disappointed by how we ended last season, but what last year did show us is that we are not that far away from those better teams in the state.

“So, we just have to approach every game this year with goal of trying to get better. Even if we’re not taking on one of the best opponents, we still have to focus on us and us getting better.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.