There really is no such thing as rebuilding when a program is put together properly.
Such is the case for Kennard-Dale High School's highly acclaimed girls’ lacrosse team.
A few adjustments, primarily becoming a more defensive-minded side, is something that figures to keep K-D a York-Adams League power once more.
That really says all you need to know about coach Kelly Wetzel and his program.
Day, who scored 126 goals last year to finish with a national-record 469 while at K-D, is pretty much irreplaceable. But Wetzel won’t have to rely on just one player to pick up the scoring that Day contributed.
It's a similar case for Duty, who finished with 46 goals and 37 assists as Day’s primary helper, and Davis, who was the team’s top defender.
“This is really about the team being successful,” Wetzel said. “The accolades that Day, Davis and Duty won are nice, but they happen a lot as part of what the team does. Obviously those numbers speak, but I don’t really track them from year to year.”
The one thing that Wetzel will point out about all three of his graduated stars is that they are either starters or key reserves at the college level as freshmen.
“They’re all having success,” he said.
So the question for Wetzel is how he figures to keep his team, which is an impressive 134-22 over his eight years at K-D, atop a league that is becoming more competitive.
“We do have eight girls that played that are coming back,” he said. “So we’re not as unprepared as people may think. The big question, I would think, is if they step into those roles easily at the beginning of the season, or not until later in the season that they rise to those roles. I can’t speak for that. Only time will tell.”
One position of strength that the Rams can rely on is at goalie. Sophomore Clare Boone, who was named a U.S. Lacrosse Honorable Mention All-American as a freshman, impressed nearly everyone throughout last season. She will have three returning starters on defense alongside her to help anchor what could be the league’s top defensive outfit.
“We only lost one (defensive player), which was Brooke,” Wetzel said. “And (Brooke) told the girls what to do and where to go and how to do it. And nine times of out 10 she was right. So that’s a big loss, but I think we have other girls that can step up and take over.”
Boone is eager to become more involved in that aspect.
“As a goalie, that’s part of your job,” she said. “I can tell the defense what to do and tell them what I see. So I think we’ll be focused on team defense this year, but I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Around the league: Unlike the boys’ side of the sport, the girls' league has been a bit more successful at the district level over the years. York-Adams girls' teams are 21-35 since the district tournament started back in 2009. K-D has been the most successful, by far, with a 13-9 record that includes two PIAA berths.
While all the teams are chasing the Rams, who have qualified for the district playoffs every year and haven’t lost a regular-season game in the league since 2011, the field is closing in.
Susquehannock battled its next-door rival tough in all three contests a year ago. York Catholic is always a contender, while West York and South Western should be improved.
Here’s a look at a few teams around the rest of the York-Adams League in girls’ lacrosse that figure to be contenders this year:
Susquehannock: The Warriors were one win shy of making the PIAA playoffs a year ago. Unfortunately, they ran into the Rams in a qualifier game at districts, falling to their rivals, 15-11.
Like the Rams, Coach Steve Marshner’s club will have a few holes to fill. A trio of starters graduated from a team that finished 18-4 a year ago in goalie Amber Orner, attacker Ashley Valway and midfielder Katelyn Welch.
Those, however, were the lone seniors on last year’s club. A pair of juniors who were key components return in Rachel Marshner and Haley Martinez. Both are defenders, although Marshner was able to score 16 goals and add 14 assists.
York Catholic: Always one of K-D’s biggest rivals, the Irish are looking to return to prominence this season after an 11-5 campaign in 2015.
Coach Rob Linthicum sounded excited about building on the experiences of last year, in which the team lost only one senior (Shannon Moore).
“We’re pretty excited,” he said. “We only lost one senior as well as our goalkeeper, who decided to stop playing lacrosse. Obviously Shannon was our leading scorer and main attacker, which leaves us a big hole that we have to fill, and whenever you lose your goalkeeper, that’s a big hole, too. But we have a strong defense, which is the good news.”
Senior Maura Palandro and junior Kayleigh Pokrivka will be looked upon to help lead the Irish, who are the only team in the York-Adams League to have won a league title (2014) other than K-D.
“As this is coming into my senior season, I’m super-excited and super-pumped up,” Palandro said. “I hope to make a good impact as this is my last season.”
West York: The Bulldogs, who were 9-7 a year ago, have made the district playoffs in three of the last four seasons. Coach Rachel Klado’s squad, however, is still looking for its first victory there.
A sense of optimism surrounds the program, which returns key players in senior Ally Williams and Samantha Gentzler.
“We have a lot of potential this season,” Williams said.
While most teams are talking about the players they lost from a season ago, the West York girls are a bit giddy about one that they’re adding to the fold for her senior season.
“We have a secret weapon,” Williams said. “Liv Sollberger is playing this year. She plays soccer and basketball, but she’s really good at lacrosse too. She quit when she was in middle school, but she’s back.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.