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GIRLS' SOCCER: Y-A Division I looks to be grind, again

Patrick Strohecker
505-5402/@P_Strohecker
  • Central York won the 2015 Division I title by one point over Dallastown, two points over Northeastern.
  • Dallastown went on to win the 2015 Y-A League playoffs.
  • Red Lion and Spring Grove are two teams which could challenge the division's top three in 2016.

In 2015, the York-Adams League Division I girls’ soccer race may have been the fall's most compelling title battle.

Northeastern's Amanda Leisses, left, and Brittany Arentz celebrate Arentz's second-half goal against Central York last season. Arentz is the York-Adams Division I Player of the Year.

In 2016, it might be even be more competitive.

A season ago, the Division I race between Central York, Dallastown and Northeastern came down to the very end of the season, with two points separating the three teams. Considering that, in soccer, teams get three points for a win and one for a draw, that meant that just one win separated third-place Northeastern from claiming the Division I crown instead of Central York over the course of the 12-match league slate. The next closest team to the bunch was Spring Grove, nine points behind.

“I think it makes it more fun to be honest with you,” Dallastown coach Jenn Hulse said during the Y-A League Fall Sports Media Day earlier this month. “Having those three teams at the top, we go into games and (the players) are laser focused.”

With things so nip and tuck at the top last year, the players couldn’t afford to take off any games. Each game was critical, even those against teams with losing records.

All the points determined at the end of the regular season was which team won the division championship. It hardly meant one team was significantly better than the other two. That was proven when the Wildcats went on to win the Y-A League playoffs as the No. 2 seed from Division I. Dallastown had to get past the third-seeded Bobcats in the semifinals.

Joining the fun: This year you can again expect to see those three teams back at the top of the standings. All three lost key pieces from 2015, but also bring back even more, reloading their arsenals. All three,, however, could also have more company joining them as contenders.

Central York and Spring Grove play in a girls' soccer match last season. The Rockets are hoping to make a push to crack the top three this year in Division I and make the York-Adams League playoffs. Dawn J. Sagert - dsagert@yorkdispatch.com

If there is one team poised to make a move to displace Central, Dallastown or Northeastern out of the top three this season, it might be the Rockets, the fourth-place side from 2015 in the division. Spring Grove was a once-proud program within the league, always finding itself at or near the top. In recent years, however, Spring Grove has had trouble maintaining continuity within the program. An assistant in 2015, Emily Wryk is entering her first year as the team’s head coach. She's the fourth head coach in four years for the Rockets. She played for Spring Grove back when the program was at its best and has a young team that didn’t graduate many key players from a year ago. So the team appears ready to take that next step and possibly return to the league tournament.

“It’s tough,” Wryk said during media day. “Dallastown is an amazing team. (So are) Northeastern and Central. So, it’s good to see that level of play and to think, ‘Where are we and how can we transition up to the next level?’”

While the Rockets might be the next team in line to crack the top three, which has included the same three programs in the two seasons since Northeastern got bumped up to Division I, Spring Grove may also have to look over its shoulder at some other contenders.

One dark horse that could make a run and should drastically improve from 2015 is Red Lion, a team that went 2-10-0 last season, recording just six points.

Yet, that poor form hasn’t deterred Bobcats’ head coach Diana Collier from seeing the potential in the Lions, especially since she coached many of the girls who will return for Red Lion over the offseason in club competition.

“Red Lion is on my radar,” Collier said. “I coach for FC York and so many of the girls that I coach are from Red Lion. I’m like, ‘Man, I’m coaching all of you girls and then you’re going to come in and whoop my butt.’ It’s such a double-edge sword.”

There’s no doubt that a year ago, the girls’ soccer Division I race was one of the best the league had to offer. Now, it might be getting better.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com,