The balance of power has resided in a closed area. Since the YAIAA adopted a four-team postseason tournament three years ago, Red Lion won the first two. Dallastown, which has experienced many years of success, ended that run by beating the Lions in an overtime shootout.
A slew of key players returning and a number of intriguing matchups make this field hockey season unique. Read why below:
PRESEASON TOP 5
2. Red Lion
3. Bermudian Springs
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ali Posey, Red Lion, Sr.
Niki Bream, Dallastown, Sr.
Ashley Chioda, Dallastown, Sr.
Taylor Mumley, Susquehannock, Sr.
Mackenzie Farley, Bermudian Springs, So.
DIVISION I BREAKDOWN
● With Niki Bream in the goalie cage, Dallastown (18-1-1, 13-0) was able to capture its first YAIAA field hockey tournament title and end Red Lion’s run of championships in the third year of the event. Both teams should be poised for another run.
Bream enters her fourth year as the Wildcats’ starting goalie, and coach Jeri Myers also will rely on three-year players Ashley Chioda, a center midfielder, and Molly Childress, a forward. Like Bream, both are seniors. Two-year starters include senior forward Taylor Kline, senior back Cory Reever, junior midfielder Bryna Cook and junior back Haylee Anders. Cook defended the opposition’s top forward in most games, and Myers said she expects an increased scoring role from her this year.
● For Red Lion (16-4, 12-2) to return to its fourth straight YAIAA tournament championship game, it must usher in six new starters. Coach Carol Gillmen still brings back plenty of talent, led by Division I Player of the Year Ali Posey and all-star Morgan Kuehne. The seniors should spearhead the offense along with senior midfielder/forward Alyssa Castle, who has been recruited by Slippery Rock and Washington & Jefferson. The defense has senior Olivia Uberti and goalkeeper Jess Everett, also a senior.
● Central York (8-11, 7-7) will be without senior All-YAIAA defender Kelly Williamson, who opted to play soccer. Forced to decide between the sports last fall, when girls' soccer changed the season, she picked field hockey despite college aspirations on the pitch.
While the Panthers lost a potential three-year starter in Williamson, they return a two-year starter in junior midfielder Paige Harrold. In the second half of last season, junior Alexis Young and sophomore Greta Plappert picked up playing time because of injuries to Central’s top players.
● South Western (8-10, 6-8) has a two-year starter back at goalie in junior Hannah Glover, plus senior forward/midfielder Kasey Neiderer and senior forward Madison Suarez. Senior midfielder/back Alexia Mort, an honorable mention All-YAIAA selection last year, also returns.
● New Oxford (10-9-1, 7-6-1) and coach Cheryl Mowery find themselves this season looking to replace a four-year starter in Sarah Groft and another all-star in Krysten Dema.
● Spring Grove (8-8-1, 5-7-1), likewise, will look to fill a big void as it graduated one of its top players, Kiersten Wetzel. Last year, she was voted honorable mention All-YAIAA.
● Could things look up at Dover (2-10-3, 1-9-3)? The Eagles graduated all-league center defender and forward Heather Sharp plus Rachael Laughead. They do return senior Hannah Taylor, an honorable mention All-YAIAA player last season as a junior.
● Northeastern (1-11-1, 0-10-1) graduated captain and All-YAIAA player Sam Gordineer. She also was the Bobcats’ leading scorer last season. They also lost Katie Carlton to graduation.
DIVISION II BREAKDOWN
● The cupboard should not be bare at Susquehannock (8-7-1, 6-2). The Warriors return Division II player of the year Taylor Mumley and standout athlete Alesha Herman. Both are seniors, and Herman also was an all-star. Mumley has led Susquehannock in scoring each of the past two seasons.
● There is a new coach at West York (9-8, 7-1), where Amanda Steigleman takes over for Julia Haynes, a longtime and successful presence for the Bulldogs. Steigleman will have senior center back Brooke Robinson, who served as a captain last season. The ‘Dogs will need a new goalie. All-star Cassidy McCauley graduated, as did left back Ciara Stough.
● Kennard-Dale (6-9-1, 3-4-1) should be able to call on a few of its lacrosse standouts to move up the field hockey standings. Junior Lyndsey Duty returns from that successful spring and will be joined by fellow junior Jordan Miller.
● Eastern York (3-14, 3-5) returns six starters, including senior forward and leading scorer Heather Peters, Kierstan Mclasky, who can play defensive back and midfielder, forward Kaitlynn Sollenberger and defensive back Syndney Dietzel. Junior defensive back Lexi Wheeler also returns and sophomore Ashton Evans was coach Joni Oswald’s first freshman to start in about 10 years. Oswald, in her 25th year as coach, also will welcome back senior Deanna Shaw, who missed last season after injuring herself in summer league. One question, as it was last year for Eastern, was scoring. Sophomore Gabby Graham returns in net after stepping in a few games for Britt Wilhelm last season because of injury.
● York Suburban (0-15-1, 0-7-1) returns six starters and promoted assistant Beth Milkowski to head coach as it looks to turn around the program’s fortunes from 2012. Senior defender Courtney Shaffer, junior midfielder Sophie Hovis and junior goalie Colleen Dommel are among the returning starters. Sophomore forward Paige Robinson is a newcomer with quickness and stick skills Milkowski said will be an asset this season.
DIVISION III BREAKDOWN
● Bermudian Springs (16-4, 10-0) should be able to remain soaring in Division III. Sophomore Mackenzie Farley led the Eagles in scoring last season. Rajchel Moore, a senior, finished second to her in scoring but had a team-best 20 assists. Combined with her 18 goals, she led the Eagles in overall points.
The Eagles lost senior midfielder Amy Thoman to graduation, but should be favored again in this division.
● Delone Catholic (13-5-1, 7-3) should be in for a transitional year, having graduated Division III player of the year Becky Henn. Her father and coach, John Henn, also left his post. The job now falls to Christine Brillhart. She not only will be without Henn but also Casara McCleaf. Tayler Schussler, an all-star field hockey and softball player, is slated to return for Brillhart.
● Biglerville (10-5-1, 5-3-1) should be able to provide a challenge. The Canners have seniors Rachel Asper and Katie Camara in their lineup. Asper was an all-league performer, while Camara earned honorable mention last season.
● Hanover (7-10-1, 2-7-1) will look to improve without a four-year starter in Lynne Eisenberg.
● Littlestown (5-12, 2-7) lost two all-stars to graduation, Trina Chavez and Dawn Kraus. The Thunderbolts lost another key starter who graduated in Kelsey Harteis. They do return four senior starters, including forward Karissa O'Conner, midfielder and defender Deanna Kraus, forward and midfielder Caelan Woryk and defender Emily Green. Second-year coach Sara Lawyer considers the interchangeability among those players her team's strength.
● Fairfield (5-10-3, 1-7-2) lost Kelly Quealy to graduation. She is now at Division I St. Francis (Pa.).
MARK THE CALENDAR
● Dallastown vs. Red Lion: These rivals will get started early. They meet Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Dallastown, when the season will be no more than a week old, and again Tuesday, Sept. 24 at Red Lion.
● Bermudian Springs vs. Biglerville: Like Dallastown and Red Lion, here’s another big, backyard rivalry. The Eagles and Canners meet Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Biglerville and Tuesday, Sept. 24 at Bermudian.
● Susquehannock at Bermudian Springs: This Wednesday, Oct. 9 season finale provides an enticing cross-divisional battle to close the regular season. The Eagles have three of them in the last week. They visit Central York that Monday, then play at West York the following day before returning home against the Division II runner-ups from a year ago.
● YAIAA Championship: The league title will be decided Thursday, Oct. 17. The semifinals will be played a day earlier.