The Gettysburg High boys' soccer team reached the District 3 championship match and also won a PIAA playoff game for the first time in school history — both firsts in school history. With eight starters returning from that team, the goals and expectations for 2015 are understandably sky high.
"We have, for the first time, a realistic goal to win a state title," Gettysburg head coach Scott Hancock said. "That's not to say that it's a given, but we should be a top 10 team in the state in AA. It would take some things to break our way, but not as many things as we'd have needed to have go our way in past years."
A pair of streaks that were snapped in 2014 for the Warriors were a division winning streak that ended at 50 straight matches and a run of four straight division titles. Susquehannock snapped both streaks in Gettysburg's first year in YAIAA Division II.
Hancock feels that Susquehannock, a winner against Gettysburg both times they played last year, West York and York Suburban, will prove to be the biggest challengers to Gettysburg winning a division title.
"I think the division change helped us to get ready for the postseason," Hancock said, (Gettysburg previously played in the Mid-Penn Colonial). "Both Susquehannock games, both West York games and the Suburban game on the road felt like playoff games. The Mechanicsburg game and the Central York game, in the league tournament, too."
Gettysburg, 18-6 a year ago, has to replace midfielder Jonah Waldkoenig (six goals, five assists), defender Brandon Smith and goalkeeper Michael Heeschen in its starting lineup.
Hancock mentioned junior Alex Cowden and sophomore Kellen Fees as "looking good so far in camp."
But replacing Heeschen, who was a three-year starter in net and also started a district playoff match as a freshman, is the biggest hole to fill.
The eight-year head coach has three candidates in mind to fill the spot: senior Matt Balas, senior Max Lampe and sophomore Yanni Tassou. Balas was the Warriors' starting keeper on the junior varsity team last year and received limited varsity minutes.
"Replacing Michael is not going to be easy and it's very important that we have someone emerge," Hancock said. "When Michael was a sophomore, he won the job after a 50/50 split with Dakota Myers for the first half of the season. We may end up doing that again this year until someone steps forward and wins the job."
As for who is back, senior striker Adam Yingling (20 goals, six assists) and junior striker Matt Yingling (14 goals, eight assists) both return up front.
In the midfield, seniors Drew Riggle (four goals) and Jake Wilhelm (three goals, five assists) and junior Drew Wivell (five goals, five assists) are back.
Senior Bobby Weikert, a three-year starter, returns to anchor the back line, along with senior Connor Weikert (three goals, five assists).
The Warriors begin their season with the Gettysburg Kickoff Tournament Saturday, Sept. 5 when they host a round-robin tournament with Biglerville and Penn Manor. Gettysburg faces Biglerville in the opener at 9 a.m. and then takes on Penn Manor at 2 p.m.