Power rankings: YAIAA girls' soccer
Dallastown's run of seven straight YAIAA Division I championships finally ended in 2015 when Central York beat out the Wildcats and Northeastern in a tightly-contested division race that saw the teams finish within two points of each other.
With a win worth three points and a draw earning a team one point, Central finished with 30 points, Dallastown had 29 and Northeastern earned 28.
Not deterred by losing the division, Dallastown rebounded and won the league tournament for the first time since 2012, defeating Dover in the finale.
This season, Dallastown returns most of its squad and expects to once again lean heavily on its defense. The Wildcats posted 13 shutouts and allowed a total of 19 goals for the season.
Northeastern returns eight starters and went further in the district tournament than Dallastown or Central, though in Class AA, not AAA. But it's year-to-year consistency that the Bobcats are striving for.
"Dallastown and Central are at a level, program-wise, that we'd like to get to. Their consistency is something to work for." Northeastern head coach Diana Collier said. "We were so close to a county championship last year, single plays one way or another could've changed games. So that's definitely a goal for us this season."
Spring Grove, which finished fourth in the division, has its fourth head coach in as many seasons. Former Rockets' player Emily Wryk, who was an assistant last season, takes over for Megan Mahon, who moved on to Red Lion.
"Being an assistant last season, I'm familiar with the girls," Wryk said. "I know their strengths and that helps a lot in knowing where to use them."
In YAIAA Division II, both Susquehannock and Dover made it through the division slate without suffering a defeat. The Warriors won one more match, though, and secured the crown by doing so.
Susquehannock lost its opening-round YAIAA tournament match to Northeastern, but finished third in the district tournament and ended up reaching the state tournament and winning a match before bowing out.
They graduated three starters, though keeper Ashley Stone could be the biggest loss. She conceded just 12 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, Dover advanced to the league tournament final before losing to Dallastown. The Eagles will need to find a way to fill the void created by the graduation of division player of the year Brooke Firestone who set a school record for goals in a season with 37 and pocketed 115 in her career before moving on to Messiah College this fall.
The question in YAIAA Division III this season is whether Fairfield can retake the top spot in the division. The Knights wore the crown in 2012, but have finished second to York Catholic in each of the last three years.
"I think that we'll be a stiff challenge for York Catholic and that we're capable of doing it," Fairfield head coach Phomma Phanthy said of winning the division. "Our girls have been together for a long time and winning the division is definitely within our reach."
The Knights and Irish split their meetings in 2015, but a draw with Biglerville forced Fairfield to settle for second place.
"We tied Fairfield at the end of last season and we're hoping to use that as a springboard into this season," Biglerville head coach Danielle Cramer said. "We have many of our top scorers returning and a big freshmen class coming in that we expect to contribute."
York Catholic is tasked with replacing the production it received from division player of the year Liz Johnson, who netted 44 goals a year ago and helped the Irish to reach the district final in Class A and the second round of the state tournament.
1. Dallastown: The Wildcats are the defending tournament champs and just one year removed from a seven-year reign atop its division.
2. Central York: After knocking Dallastown from its perch in YAIAA Division I, the Panthers have significant talent returning to make another run.
3. Susquehannock: The Warriors return eight starters off of a team that went deep into the district tournament and won a state playoff match.
4. Northeastern: Searching for its first division title in girls soccer, the Bobcats made it a great three-way race in YAIAA Division I a year ago.
5. York Catholic: The three-time defending YAIAA III champs could be in a real dog fight with Fairfield to make it four straight.