Here are five things to keep an eye on during the 2016 field hockey season.
*Fox Chapel and North Allegheny played for the WPIAL Class AAA title last season. Don't be surprised if those teams do the same this season. Fox Chapel ended North Allegheny's two-year reign as champions by defeating the Tigers, 2-0, in the final. Both teams return many key players. Fox Chapel (20-1 last season) returns six starters, a group led by juniors Abby Pitcairn and Paige Ryan, who combined to score 53 goals in the regular season. Among North Allegheny's top returnees is senior Brooke Cameron.
*Ellis School will try to win a WPIAL title for the third year in a row. The last two came in Class AA, and now the Tigers will aim for the Class A title (more on that later). Angelina Scheuermann's goal gave Ellis a 1-0 win over Shady Side Academy in the WPIAL championship, which avenged two regular-season losses to the Indians. Ellis had only three seniors on that team, meaning it will likely be a force again this season. Returning are Scheuermann, junior Corinne Hartman and senior Courtney Baldwin.
*The PIAA realignment added a third classification. The format is a bit odd. All seven teams that played in Class AA last season were moved to Class A. Penn-Trafford, Oakland Catholic and Woodland Hills will play in Class AAA sections, but in the postseason will compete for the Class AA title. All three earn automatic playoff bids.
*A total of 14 WPIAL All-Stars return this season, 11 in Class AAA and three in Class A (formerly Class AA). The Class AAA group includes Fox Chapel senior Meg McCrady, Fox Chapel junior Grace Knepshield, Mt. Lebanon senior Caroline Griffin and Pine-Richland junior Molly Rottinghaus. The Class A group consists of Ellis' Hartman and Shady Side Academy seniors Caroline Benec and Alexa Conomikes.
*Will a WPIAL team finally win a PIAA title or even reach the championship game? It has never happened since the PIAA began playing championship games in 1974. Shady Side Academy was the last WPIAL team to win a PIAA playoff game, and that came in 2011.