YORK, PA – For the fourth time in program history and the
third in five seasons, the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament
title belongs to the York College men’s soccer team.
The fourth-ranked Spartans topped visiting Stevenson University 2-1 Saturday afternoon at a sunsplashed Graham Field. The Green and White registered goals from Mike O’Connell (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) and Brett Sauerberger (Little Silver, N.J./Monmouth Regional) to not only improve to 15-1-4 on the year but also secure their first league tournament championship since 2006.
O’Connell put the Spartans on the board in the 36th minute, recording his team-leading tenth goal of the season. Senior Jon Ports (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) collected the ball on the right side of the field before streaking into the Mustang box. Ports dribbled all the way to the endline before slotting a pass along the ground in front of the Stevenson goal. In a right place, right time situation, O’Connell ran onto the pass, slid, and one-timed the ball into the back of the net to give the Spartans a crucial 1-0 advantage.
Sauerberger would provide York’s initial two-goal cushion, and more importantly the game-winner, in the 73rd minute. On the Spartan’s sixth corner of the match, Lucas Emil (Parsippany, N.J./Morris Catholic) played a brilliant service to the near post from the left corner of the pitch. Sauerberger slashed his way to the near bar before redirecting Emil’s serve passed Ryan Flannelly to give York the 2-0 advantage.
With their season on the line, the Mustangs made a furious push toward the end of the match. That surge paid off for the visitors as they cut York’s lead in half with only 3:28 remaining. With the ball just outside the left side of the Sparta penalty area, Roderick Linkonko served in a cross that found the foot of Kyle Baker who was crashing in on goal. Baker's eighth of the season cut the Spartan advantage to 2-1.
Despite a few nervous moments of trepidation during a late Stevenson free kick, the Green and White were able to run off that 3:28 as Ports fittingly carried the ball along the left sideline as time expired.
The entire 90 minutes proved exceptionally physical as 31 fouls were called and a total of seven yellow cards assessed. The Spartans kept their composure however, a factor which proved key during the emotional match.
For the game, the Spartans outshot their guests by a 23-4 bulge while York also led in corners 7-0.
Ryan Hock (Brookeville, Md./Sherwood) secures the victory in the Spartan net while the Mustang’s Flannelly takes the loss despite making five saves.
As victors of the CAC Tournament, the Spartans gain an automatic bid into the upcoming NCAA Tournament, which the Spartans have now made for an impressive five consecutive years after two at-large bids in 2007 and 2008. Complete tournament pairings will be announced this Monday, November 9. Please visit www.ycpspartans.com or www.ncaa.com for complete Division III men’s soccer tournament information.
Senior captain Ryan Hock hoists the CAC Championship plaque as the Spartans celebrate their fourth league title - photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (www.sharpedgephoto.smugmugcom)