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#7 Spartans Blank #1 Messiah, 2-0

YORK, PA - On a blustery fall afternoon in south central Pennsylvania, the York College men’s soccer team topped visiting Messiah 2-0 in a clash of top ten squads. The #7 Spartans, who used a pair of first half headers to notch their two scores, improve to 9-1-2 on the year while the #1 Falcons suffer their first defeat of 2009 and fall to 9-1.

The Spartans, who have now won three straight matches against the Division III powerhouse, opened the scoring in the 22nd minute on a Mike O’Connell (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) tally. Aaron Good (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown Area) collected the ball just over midfield before launching a service into Messiah’s box, gaining additional yards courtesy of the gusty conditions. O’Connell tracked the service as Messiah goalkeeper Jared Clugston bore down on the junior forward. The 6’1” O’Connell leapt and skimmed the service just past the on-coming Clugston, finding the back of the Falcon goal for the senior’s fifth score of 2009.

The Green and White tacked on an insurance tally just 4:28 later to capture the 2-0 lead. A Messiah foul along the left side of the pitch gave Jon Ports (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) a free kick approximately 35 yards from goal. Ports’ lofted, bending service sailed toward the back post where an awaiting Andy Stromberg (Baltimore, Md./Fallston) knocked home the far post header. Stromberg, who had checked into the match just 1:28 earlier, notches his first goal of the year.

Prior to York’s pair of scores, Messiah had their chances early in the match. Fifteen minutes into the game, a dangerous Falcon set piece from 30 yards away proved harmless as it lined through the Spartans’ penalty area and out for a goal kick.

Minutes later, the Falcons sent in a high service from the far right side that was held up by the wind. That allowed Nick Thompson the opportunity to collect inside the 18-yard box and cut back to his right where he had an open attempt at goal. The junior’s shot however, sailed high over the Spartan net allowing the score to remain deadlocked at zero.

York’s defense stood tall in the waning minutes of the first half as Messiah generated one of their four corners of the afternoon. Despite allowing the corner, Eric Mackin (Moyock, N.C./Currituck County) made a brilliant tackle inside York’s penalty area to thwart a dangerous 1-v-1 opportunity. Geoff Pezon’s ensuing corner kick found the head of Sam Woodworth who snapped his attempt to the right side of the Spartan goal. That attempt however, found the foot of senior captain Scott Becker (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum) who quickly cleared Woodworth’s header off the goal line to preserve the clean sheet.

At the intermission, the Green and White held a 4-2 advantage in shots while Messiah grabbed a slight 2-1 edge in corners.

The Spartans pair of first half tallies would hold up throughout the latter 45 minutes despite several moments of trepidation.

The visitor’s best chance of the second frame came in the 57th minute on another set piece opportunity. Kent Ramirez, who proved dangerous for the Falcons throughout the match, rang a right-footed free kick off York’s crossbar. The Spartans were able to clear the ensuing loose ball from danger however, as the score remained 2-0.

Ramirez again tested the Spartan net with another free kick later in the match, this time in the 80th minute. His right-footed bender forced York goalkeeper Jesse Derksen (York, Pa./Susquehannock) to make a solid two-fisted punch save just before it sailed into the upper right side netting.

Derksen would bring the clean sheet to a close as he collected another quality Messiah service, made more difficult by the windy conditions, with less than one minute remaining in regulation.

York’s defense played well throughout the 90 minutes of action quieting the Falcons’ potent offense. The Spartans, led by a tough defensive unit of Derksen, Becker, Good, Stromberg, Adam Good (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown Area), and Brett Sauerberger (Little Silver, N.J./Monmouth Regional), proved the first squad to shutout the Falcons in nearly two and a half seasons. Messiah failed to score for the first time since August 31, 2007 when they dropped their season opener by a 1-0 count to Greensboro at the VCAM/CNU Classic in Newport News, Va.

For the game, the squads tied 8-8 in shots while the Falcons owned a 4-1 advantage in corners.

Derksen secures the victory for the Green and White as he moves to 5-0-1 on the season. Clugston takes the loss in the Falcon goal, as the senior falls to 9-1.

York will look to push this momentum through to Saturday’s Capital Athletic Conference tilt with Wesley College. The Spartans are set to travel to Dover, Del. for a 1:00 p.m. league match against the Wolverines.

GAME BOX

Mike O'Connell photo courtesy of Steve Doemland (www.stevedoemland.com) and the Andy Stromberg photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh.

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