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Here are some of the top returning players to watch in YAIAA girls' lacrosse for the 2017 season. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com

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Even after a historic season, when Kennard-Dale became the first team to knock off seven-time defending District 3 girls' lacrosse champion Manheim Township in the district playoffs, the status quo could change for the YAIAA's pecking order in girls' lacrosse.

Kennard-Dale has won five of the last six YAIAA tournament titles, with York Catholic winning the 2014 title.

Those two teams could still be the programs to beat this season in the 12-team league, but two more teams are expected to challenge for that top spot.

Susquehannock, coming off a second-round loss in the District 3 tournament with eight returning starters, has been practicing in the preseason's frigid temperatures in part to sharpen its mental toughness for the upcoming season.

"Last year we felt when we found ourselves in a tough situation we weren't at our best," Susquehannock coach Steve Marshner said. "We've been doing extra conditioning and just trying to get better prepared to play in our tough games.

"We have a good team this year, it all comes down to how tough we are."

The Warriors also added goalie Sam McGuire, who played at York Catholic last season.

Red Lion hopes to challenge for one of the top spots after a fourth-place finish and 11-win season a year ago. Top scorer Alyssa Adams (67 goals in 2016) returns to the squad, and the Lions worked in the offseason to improve their defense.

All this could be important since Kennard-Dale and York Catholic both enter the season with some serious questions.

Kennard-Dale is expected to be a force offensively, returning all but about 30 points from last year's state quarterfinal team. But the Rams lost two-year starting goalie Clare Boone when she transferred to St. Paul's School in Baltimore.

During the preseason, the goalie spot has come down to a two-player competition to see who could fill the spot.

"The best defense is often a great offense," Kennard-Dale coach Kelly Wetzel said. "Are we going to have to outscore teams in order to take the pressure off? We have a lot of things to figure out."

The Rams should still be an impressive offensive team, with Maddie Day (70 regular-season goals in 2016) and Emmie Dressel (LaSalle commit) returning. Dressel should move into the Rams' second spot in career points even with a below average showing. She needs about 30 goals and 30 assists to notch her name in the No. 2 spot.

York Catholic, a district semifinalist a year ago, also has some defensive concerns, including replacing GameTimePA first-team defender Maura Palandro.

"We lost a lot of talent from last year's team, and we still have to get by Susquehannock and Kennard-Dale," York Catholic coach Rob Linthicum said.

So even with a talented roster, that will include Amanda Tufano, Kayleigh Pokrivka and Anna Linthicum, the Irish are hesitant to make any bold predictions. That doesn't mean they won't be up to the challenge, taking on Susquehannock, Manheim Township and Kennard-Dale during the first five days of its season.

Players to watch

Alyssa Adams, sr., mid, Red Lion

Elizabeth Antoshak, jr., mid, South Western

Morgan Bowings, jr. mid, Kennard-Dale

Lakyn Brenneman, sr., attack/mid, West York

Maddie Day, jr., attack, Kennard-Dale

Holly Detwiler, jr., mid, West York

Gabriella DiRienzo, sr., attack, South Western

Emmie Dressel, sr., attack, Kennard-Dale

Jordan Gertz, soph, mid, South Western

Lauren Grove, sr., mid, Spring Grove

Emily Harrington, jr., mid, Red Lion

Larissa Herbert, sr., goalie, Red Lion

Kayla Held, sr., attack, Susquehannock

Maddie Lazzelle, sr., def., South Western

Anna Linthicum, sr., attack, York Catholic

Rachel Marshner, sr., mid, Susquehannock

Haley Martinez, sr., defender, Susquehannock

Sam McGuire, soph., goalie, Susquehannock

Kayleigh Pokrivka, sr., def/mid, York Catholic

Sam Richards, sr., mid, Spring Grove

Peyton Shima, jr., attack, Red Lion

Chloe Smith, sr., mid, West York

Gena Speights, sr., attack, Susquehannock

Amanda Tufano, sr., mid, York Catholic

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