Y-A tournament: 4 players hold key to victory
Central York, York Catholic, Red Lion and Dallastown compete for league title. (Teddy Feinberg/GameTimePA.com)
It’s tournament time on the YAIAA boys’ lacrosse field.
Four teams face off Wednesday in the semifinals: No. 1 seed Central York plays No. 4 Dallastown at Red Lion Area High School; No. 2 York Catholic squares off against No. 3 Red Lion at Dallastown Area High School. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
The championship is slated for Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Central York High School.
We deciphered which players hold the keys to success for their respective teams entering the postseason:
TJ Ross, Central York
An important component on a team that is undefeated in the YAIAA (13-0 record) and the clear-cut No. 1-seed entering tournament play.
The ball is on Ross’ stick often when the Panthers are on attack, and he not only scores (66 goals on the year) but also facilitates for teammates (35 assists as well). In other words, everyone reaps the rewards of Ross' success.
Yes, the Panthers have plenty of weapons: Division I-college bound Kollin Vaught is a force on faceoffs, and the Kilgore brothers – Alex (junior midfielder) and Ryan (sophomore attackman) – form a quality one-two punch.
That said, you can’t ignore Ross’ numbers or the impact he makes as the “quarterback” of Central’s offense.
Player quote: "It's all about my teammates, and I think I have the best teammates in the league. I might have 35 assists or whatever, but Kollin Vaught, when he's winning every faceoff for us, it's not that hard." — TJ Ross
Eli Doyle, York Catholic
The defending YAIAA champions needed someone to step up this season, and Doyle has been the team’s anchor.
A very good player last year, the senior has been even better in 2017, racking up 80 goals and dishing out 22 assists.
Doyle is also a big-game player. He showed up late in the season during key victories against Red Lion (nine goals, one assist) and Dallastown (five goals, one assist) that propelled the Irish into this week’s tournament.
While York Catholic dropped mid-season games to Central York and Spring Grove, the Irish haven’t looked back since, recording eight straight wins.
They have plenty of offensive firepower, along with a quality faceoff man in Drew Snelbaker. Yes, York Catholic is a hot team at the moment, and a dangerous one to face as the postseason looms.
Player quote: "I think winning the (YAIAA) championship last year really motivated us to keep climbing and keep getting better. As we're winning and progressing, I think other teams are taking notice. That's really what we want." — Eli Doyle
Mason Gauntt, Red Lion
Of course we know about Lions' star Sam Emig, who’s burried 64 goals and dished out 29 assists on the season. And Elijah Workinger shouldn’t be overlooked either (29 goals, 40 assists on the year).
But Gauntt is a very good faceoff man in his own right. According to MaxPreps.com, Gauntt is winning faceoffs at a 79 percent clip and leads the Lions with 180 ground balls on the season.
When he wins draws, the Lions can get Emig the ball on offense and Gauntt can also score off the faceoff, evidenced by his 27 goals on the season.
Next year, he’ll take the field at Bridgewater College in Virginia. Before then, however, he hopes to lead his team on a postseason run.
Player quote: "It's now or never. It's my last year and I want to make it count. Make a statement and show the younger kids what it takes to win, or potentially win, a county championship." — Mason Gauntt
AJ Lentz, Dallastown
Rough, rugged and fast, Lentz is going to beat up elite attackmen on the field and shut them down on the scoreboard.
The position itself doesn't garner a lot of attention or generate a ton of headlines – those rewards are typically reserved for attacking players that put up gaudy offensive numbers.
Lentz, however, just does his job as the top defensemen in the YAIAA, on arguably the best defensive team in the league.
His placement on this list is well earned.
Player quote: "Goals are going to happen in the game. As a defenseman, it's about learning how a team scored, how a team attacks, and then trying to stop them a second time, a third time, a fourth time. I like that challenge." — AJ Lentz
If you go
What: YAIAA boys' lacrosse tournament
The games: No. 1 Central York will play No. 4 Dallastown at Red Lion High School; No. 2 York Catholic will play No. 3 Red Lion at Dallastown High School.
When: Each semifinal is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Title game: The winners of Wednesday's semifinals will play in the championship at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Central York High School.