Red Lion starter Nick Serrano on what makes a good lacrosse goalie.
The Central York boys’ lacrosse team didn’t lose a game in York-Adams League play on its way to the league championship in 2017.
While a loaded Panthers team returns in 2018 — Central loses only one starter from a 13-0 Y-A squad — there will be plenty of challengers for their crown.
Here’s a quick look at the teams that should be in the hunt come playoff time, starting with a squad possibly poised for a surprise run.
York Suburban: An upstart York Suburban squad could prove to be a sleeper if it can continue its upward trend. Last season saw the Trojans produce a 10-7 record and the program’s first District 3 Class 2-A victory — their first in three district trips.
While continued participation at the district level is no doubt welcome, the Trojans hope to also be part of a different kind of playoffs. In fact, it motivates senior attacker Riley Purcell. The Trojans have never participated in a Y-A tournament.
Led by a solid combination of talented sophomores and seasoned seniors, this Suburban squad is hungry to establish itself among the county's best. Purcell, however, knows it won’t be easy.
“You’ve got to go into every game expecting to have a chance to win, fight for it,” Purcell said at spring sports media day. “Our new team motto is ‘feed the wolf.’ You’ve got to go after it.”
Last season, Suburban was led by freshmen Dominic Corto and Austin Sipes. Corto produced 93 points on 53 assists and 40 goals, while Sipes scored 38 goals and added 19 assists. Adding to the Trojans' core of sensational sophomores is Evan LeCates, who returns after recording 14 goals and 14 assists.
Suburban isn’t without quality senior leadership either, with Purcell bringing back 25 goals and fellow senior Bryce Gavin having scored 22.
On the defensive side, the Trojans welcome back second-team all-county defender Justin Shocker. The junior will be counted on to lead a unit that also sees Blake Wallace return in goal after a stellar junior campaign. Gavin also contributes greatly to this side of the ball, recording 111 ground balls in 2017.
“A lot of what happens this year is going to hinge on how our junior class takes a step forward,” Suburban head coach Luke Beam said. “We’re looking forward to those juniors taking the next step that we expect them to and help support the guys that were already established last year.”
York Catholic: The Irish produced a 15-5 record in 2017 that saw them fall to the Panthers in the Y-A title game before going on to claim a sixth-place finish in District 3 2-A. That sixth-place finish was one win shy of what would have been the program’s first PIAA berth.
The 2016 Y-A champs will try to reclaim the top spot without the services of first-team all-county attacker Eli Doyle and his league-leading 105 goals.
Senior Dimitri Amalfitano and junior Chandler Hake return as the team’s most successful scorers, each having posted 50 goals last year.
The Irish will have their scoring supplemented in 2018 by the addition of Eastern York transfer Cole Witman. The Johns Hopkins recruit racked up 46 goals and 27 assists during his sophomore season with the Golden Knights.
Junior attacker Matt Cassidy returns after recording 35 goals and 36 assists in his sophomore season. The Irish can also look to the return of honorable mention all-county face-off, get-off standout Drew Snelbaker to help control possession.
The question will be which player from a talented group will step up and fill Doyle’s leadership role, as well his offensive void.
On the defensive side, York Catholic sees the return of first-team all-county defender Ricky Pokrivka.
Red Lion: Red Lion is another team dealing with the departure of a high-profile talent, losing first-team all-county attacker Sam Emig to graduation.
Red Lion went 12-7 in 2017 and saw its season end with an upset loss to Warwick in the first round of the District 3 3-A tournament. The Lions also lost in the first round of the Y-A tournament and are still in search of their first league crown.
The quick answer as to who will replace Emig on the Red Lion attack is fellow all-county selection Elijah Workinger.
A second-team midfield pick as a junior, Workinger has the size and ability to slide up on attack. However, that same size and experience benefit Workinger’s defensive play, should he remain in the middle. Another name that could fill the void is junior Trevor Rider, who notched 34 goals last season.
A pair of all-county selections, second-team long-stick midfielder Jay Nazarenus and honorable mention goalie Nick Serrano, will be tasked with slowing down the Lions’ opposition.
Dallastown: Dallastown sees the return of five all-county selections from a team that went 11-6. Three all-stars on defense and two on offense should help the Wildcats erase the sting of falling in the first round of both the Y-A and District 3 3-A tournaments.
The most notable name coming back for the Wildcats is first-team all-county long-stick midfielder Nate Downey. He’ll be helped defensively by second-team short-stick defensive midfielder Robbie Pugh and honorable mention defender Steve Werner.
The Wildcats' attack will likely lean on the services of second-team all-county attacker Ethan Pickett, who recorded 51 goals and 24 assists in 2017. The Wildcats also retain the services of second-team all-county midfielder Tanner Haines (40 goals, 19 assists), as well as Braven Morris (25 goals, 18 assists) and Josh Sebastian (19 goals, nine assists).
What remains to be seen is can the Wildcats put it all together and use last season’s experience to improve on an 11-6 overall mark and 9-4 Y-A campaign that ended with a loss in the District 3 3-A first round.
In the mix: Another group of teams exists that, based on performances a year ago, seem on the edge of contention.
Leading that contingent is a Susquehannock squad looking to regain its grip on the county crown. Susquehannock hasn’t won a league crown since the inaugural tournament back in 2011.
The Warriors were 11-6 last season and were upset by Eastern in the first round of the District 3 2-A tournament after failing to reach the Y-A tourney.
In 2018, the Warriors will be led on offense by the return of second-team all-county attacker Adam Rebich, who posted 43 goals and 17 assists during his junior campaign.
They’ll also be balanced by the play of the Kernan brothers. On offense, senior Colin Kernan (40 goals) returns as another 40-goal scorer to complement Rebich on the attack. In goal, sophomore Connor Kernan will look to steady the Warriors' defense.
That same Susquehannock defense will also be steadied by the return of first-team all-county short-stick defensive midfielder Jason Weger.
West York returns six seasoned starters to a squad that posted 8-9 overall and 6-7 Y-A records a year ago. The Bulldogs missed out on the Y-A tournament before falling in the first round of the District 3 2-A tourney.
South Western hopes to break out of this group following an 8-9 overall record in 2017 that saw the Mustangs go 7-6 in league play. The Mustangs fell to York Catholic in the first round of the District 3 2-A tourney.
Spring Grove looks to make improvements on an 8-10 campaign last year that was accompanied by a 6-7 league showing. The Rockets did qualify District 3 2-A tournament before falling to top-seed and eventual champion Palmyra in the first round.
Eastern might find itself the most tenuous member of this group, despite a 12-9 record a season ago that saw the Knights finish third in District 3 2-A and become the first Y-A program to qualify for the PIAA tournament.
That’s because a team that went 6-7 in Y-A play sees the graduation of leading scorers Jim Kurnik and Dominick Patricelli, as well as the transfer of Witman.
Many of Eastern’s top defenders graduated as well, as did standout goalie Kevin Royce, leaving lots of holes to fill.
Outside looking in: Rounding out the league standings a season ago were New Oxford (3-11, 3-10), Kennard-Dale (2-11, 2-11), Dover (2-13, 1-12) and Delone Catholic (0-13, 0-13).
— All scoring stats cited are based of MaxPreps.com. Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.