With the high school spring season getting under way this week, we give our sport-by-sport preseason power rankings in the YAIAA. Today, we take a look at high school girls' lacrosse.
1. York Catholic: For the first time in many years, the argument could be made that a team other than Kennard-Dale opens up as the preseason favorite. The Fighting Irish return 10 starters from a team that reached the district quarterfinals in 2015. Shannon Moore will be missed, but with Maura Palandro (Kennesaw State commit), Lindsey China, Lisa Casagrande and Kayleigh Pokrivka among the standouts who return this year, York Catholic will be in good shape. One of the only concerns for Rob Linthicum's squad will be its inexperience at the goalkeeper position.
2. Kennard-Dale: Yes, the Rams have won the league title four of the last five years, and yes, they haven't lost a regular season game to a YAIAA opponent since 2011. And even if the Rams reload more than they rebuild, it will be difficult to replace three first-team all stars (Morgan Day, Brooke Davis, Lyndsey Duty), including the nation's all-time leading scorer in Day. The Rams will still be dangerous with Maddie Day, Hannah Bracey and Clare Boone, but they could take a small step back while York Catholic leapfrogs them in our preseason ranks.
3. Susquehannock: The Warriors are another team that could easily be in the mix for a league title. In a preseason poll of league coaches, the first-place votes were evenly split among the top three teams. Susquehannock returns seven starters, including YAIAA first-teamers Haley Martinez, Rachel Marshner and Gena Speights from a team that went 18-4. Like York Catholic, the Warriors will be inexperienced in net. But their attackers and defense will be among the best in the league.
4. Red Lion: The Lions and West York are almost a toss-up for the fourth spot, but we'll give the early nod to Red Lion. Why? Because the Lions return eight starters from an 8-6 team and added University of Cincinnati commit Alyssa Adams. Scoring shouldn't be an issue for Red Lion with the high-scoring transfer joining a trio of Lions attackers who combined for more than 100 goals in Emily Robbins, Emily Harrington and Peyton Shima.
5. West York: For now, at least, the Bulldogs are in the fifth spot. They turned some heads last year by cracking the top four and reaching the playoffs. Ally Williams, Sami Gentzler, Lakyn Brenneman and Tori Gross return from that team. Head coach Rachel Klado and the Bulldogs believe this could be the strongest team West York has ever had.
Up next: New Oxford, South Western
Five games to watch
March 29: York Catholic at Susquehannock, 6 p.m.
March 29: South Western at New Oxford, 8 p.m.
April 7: Susquehannock at Kennard-Dale, 4:15 p.m.
April 7: West York at Red Lion, 4:15 p.m.
April 26: York Catholic at Kennard-Dale, 4:15 p.m.