STROHECKER: In boys' tourney, it's Central York, then everyone else
- Central York enters the boys' league lacrosse playoffs as the top seed after going 12-0 in league play.
- The Panthers are joined in the field by No. 2 York Catholic, No. 3 Red Lion and No. 4 Susquehannock.
- The Kennard-Dale girls enter its league tournament as the top seed for the seventh time in nine years.
With the way the York-Adams League boys' lacrosse season played out this year, it seemed like it was just a matter of time before the Central York boys' lacrosse team was finally dealt a loss in league play.
That's how the season went. There was a top crop of teams, several in the middle and then a bottom tier. The top group, teams like the Panthers, Red Lion, Susquehannock and York Catholic beat most everyone, except for a loss here and there. The middle group, like Dallastown, York Suburban, Spring Grove, South Western and Eastern York would give that top tier competitive games, but more often than not, came up short of wins.
All of it led to very condensed standings, as exactly half of the league's 14 teams found themselves at .500 or better. There even became a scenario at the end of last week that could've seen three teams tied for the fourth and final spot in the league playoffs, which begin this week.
Yet, out of all of it, only Central York managed to avoid defeat against league rivals and keep winning and winning and winning.
What it led to was the Panthers finishing with a perfect 12-0 mark in the Y-A League, finishing two games better than York Catholic and going 14-1 overall.
The two-game margin that Central York won the regular season title with is the largest for a boys' team since Dallastown won by four games in 2012. Over the previous three campaigns, there have been co-champions in the regular season, which showcases the parity that permeates throughout the Y-A League, while also displaying the sheer dominance of the Panthers this season.
Of course, expectations for Central York were high entering the year, with the roster consisting of two players, T.J. Ross and Kollin Vaught, who will play Division I lacrosse in the future. Ross, a senior, committed to New Jersey Institute of Technology and is versatile, able to play both midfielder and attack. Meanwhile, Vaught, who is only a junior, is arguably the league's best face-off specialist, one of the most underrated, but important positions in the game. His ability to constantly win face-offs and get the Panthers' attack possession was instrumental in helping the team win games this year and why he'll go to Cleveland State as a Face-Off Get Off (FOGO) specialist.
But, they're not the only players that make Central go. Supporting cast members, such as Ryan Fahs, Connor Hoch and Alex and Ryan Kilgour have provided the Panthers with a lethal and balanced scoring attack that stacks up with some of the best in the league.
So, it begs the question, can any of the other playoff teams better Central York in this week's league playoffs?
The short answer would be, no.
If the Panthers navigated the regular season slate unbeaten, what would make anyone think they couldn't keep going during the postseason?
Well, reigning league champion York Catholic is playing its best lacrosse of the season, finishing second to Central in the regular season with a 10-2 mark in league competition and has the state's leading goal and point scorer in Eli Doyle If there is an attack in the league that boasts a more lethal unit than the Panthers, it's third-place Red Lion. That unit boasts Sam Emig, Elijah Workinger, Mason Gauntt, Zach Mentzer, Ben Hornberger and Trevor Reider.
Then there's Susquehannock and Dallastown, two teams that have been neck-and-neck much of the season and finished the regular season tied with identical 9-4 league records. Whoever gains the tiebreaker to earn the fourth spot in the league tournament will certainly have their hands full with Central York, but is more than worthy of giving the Panthers a strong test.
In past seasons, with no outright winner of the regular season title, it made the league playoffs a toss-up as to who was going to win. That isn't the case this season, as Central York enters as the heavy favorite and with a clear target on its back.
Girls' tournament: This year's girl tournament has a familiar face at the top, with Kennard-Dale again clinching the No. 1 seed.
It's the seventh time in nine seasons that the Rams enter as the top seed, although last year, it was York Catholic that entered as No. 1. It didn't prevent K-D from winning the league title and the Rams will be the favorite to win this year's.
However, it isn't a forgone conclusion that the Rams' reign over the Y-A League will continue, despite their 11-0-1 mark in league play. Susquehannock finished just a half-game back of K-D in the standings at 11-1, with its only loss, obviously, coming against the Rams.
York Catholic is also right there as the No. 3 seed, a team that for about 24 hours thought it had a win over K-D at the beginning of the season, but had it reversed to a tie, due to a confusion of rules regarding overtime games. Regardless, with the Warriors and Fighting Irish squaring off in the opening round, one of those two teams will get a crack at the Rams in the finals and give them a legit challenge.
Of course, that scenario will only play out if K-D gets past the No. 4 seed, which, at the moment, could come down to South Western, Red Lion and Eastern York, all with seven wins in league play.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org