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BOYS SOCCER: Susquehannock trying to repeat 2015 success

Ryan Vandersloot
505-5403/@yaiaascores

In order to be the best team in the York-Adams League Division II race, the Susquehannock boys' soccer team must first be the best group of Warriors.

The Susquehannock boys' soccer team will look to use its state semifinal tournament run last year as momentum for the 2016 season.

Paired with the Gettysburg Warriors in Division II, the two programs serve as each other's biggest rivals within the league. And after a 2015 season that saw both teams go toe-to-toe for supremacy, the 2016 campaign looks to be much the same.

This season figures to focus primarily on the two Warriors in Division II, with Gettysburg coming off a year in which it started 2015 22-0, en route to the Division II and York-Adams League titles a season ago.

But, it was Coach Brett Maxwell’s Susquehannock club that extended its 2015 season the longest. Maxwell’s outfit advanced all the way to the PIAA Class AA semifinals, or a round farther than Gettysburg, who exited in the second round.

While Maxwell has no idea how the 2016 campaign will unfold, the one thing he is sure of is that it’s going to be exciting.

“I like the experience that we have coming back,” Maxwell said after a recent practice last week. “We had a great postseason last year and, while we did lose some great players last year, we have a big number of players (nine seniors) coming back this year. And, because of that experience, I think that this is the best that we’ve looked heading into the season in the four years that I’ve been here.”

Much of the strength of Susquehannock’s team will come from the defensive side of the ball. Nearly every major defender — centerbacks Zak Kettinger and Seth Bilbe, rightback Xander Holloway and goalie Aaron Bilbe — return from a year ago with the hope of shutting down opponents on a regular basis this fall.

“You can see it in the way that we play,” Maxwell said. “Our defense is strong and that usually takes the longest to develop that. We have almost our entire defense back. Our defense has really been looking strong from the start.”

Maxwell will have a pretty good idea just how well-positioned his team is to be a contender for the league, District 3 and PIAA titles right off the bat. The first two games of the season are against Central Dauphin, the No. 1 seeded team in the Class AAA bracket a year ago, and Gettysburg, the No. 1 seeded team in the Class AA bracket last year.

A pair of wins will send a strong signal to everyone in Division II, the rest of the York-Adams League and to District 3 that Maxwell’s club will be the one to look out for in the newly-realigned Class AAA.

“CD is always a good test for us,” Maxwell said of the Rams, who are now in Class AAAA. “I think that last year, we played poorly against them, but we still could have still won the game. I thought that we were there. This year I think is our best chance against them.”

Division I race: While the two Warrior teams figure to be prime contenders this season in Division II, in Division I it looks like a three-way race with Central York, Dallastown and Red Lion set to battle it out. The Panthers won the division last year, but the Wildcats are feeling good about regaining their perch atop the standings come seasons end.

“I always say Central,” Maxwell said of his thoughts on Division I. “They always have kids coming up their system every year. But, what I hear in the grapevine is that Dallastown could be the team to beat this year. I think they’re thinking that this is their year. From what they have coming back I think they probably should have some high hopes this year.”

— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com