Can Dallastown soccer repeat this year's success?
Standing on the turf soccer field at Hershey High School on Tuesday, Dallastown girls' soccer coach Barry Barbush summed up his team's season in this fashion: "I think we left a mark with people. I think they know next year Dallastown is a team that will be around."
The Wildcats' season was certainly a noteworthy one. Previously, no YAIAA girls' soccer team had advanced to the PIAA state semifinals. Even a lopsided, 4-0 defeat to Cumberland Valley did little to take the gloss away from Dallastown's brilliant postseason.
But can they fulfill Barbush's statement? Can they pose a similar district- and state-wide threat next season?
In one sense, this was a senior-heavy team. The Wildcats will graduate 10 seniors, including fullback Katie Austin. She was perhaps this team's most consistent player, and her unbelievably long throw-ins created an innumerable amount of offensive chances for Dallastown. Austin will play at Robert Morris next year. The Wildcats will also lose starters Katie Alban (forward), Emma Sweitzer (forward) and Melissa Stewart (midfielder).
But with the exception of Austin, Dallastown's stout defense should return mostly in tact. Katie Austin's sister, Becca Austin, matured into one of the area's better goalkeepers as a freshman. Fellow frosh Brittany Temple became a regular at right fullback. And the central defensive partnership of Ashley Lindo and Shannon Zimardo (both juniors) is in line to return.
Lindo in particular was an all-state caliber defender this year. Her sister, Alexis Lindo, was a former all-state pick at Dallastown and now players at Stony Brook.
Barbush said Lindo is looking at Penn as a possible college destination (she wants to become a doctor, he said.)
"I went and saw her play Central Bucks South," Cumberland Valley coach Seth Lehman said of Lindo. "She's a great player. She cleans up everything for them in the middle of the field. She did as much as she could defensively."
Dallastown will also bring back it's leading scorer, sophomore Cassy Landis. The midfielder has speed, ball skills and a certain hard-nosed edge to her game. She should only get better in the coming years. The Wildcats also saw the likes of Maura Loht (junior), Hannah Bressi (junior) and Stephanie Le (sophomore) grow into significant roles in the midfield.
So regardless, the outlook looks fairly good for Dallastown. In fact, we could see YAIAA soccer make even bigger strides in the near future. West York is loaded with young talent, and qualified for the district semifinals this year. South Western, a district qualifier, is also a team that, with some experience, could make a big jump next year. There are certainly other teams that bear watching, too.
And Dallastown is right at the top of that list.