YORK, PA – The second-ranked York College men’s
soccer team saw their 2009 campaign come to a disenchanting close
Saturday afternoon, as Williams College bested the Spartans in a
penalty-kick shootout in the NCAA Sweet 16. The Spartans (17-1-5)
and #13 Ephs (16-2-2) battled to a 1-1 tie throughout the 110
minutes of action before Williams used a 7-6 result in the shootout
to advance to the Elite Eight.
Early on, the Spartans, who had been chosen to host the sectional rounds this weekend, looked as if they may pull away. Just 4:05 into the match, Jon Ports (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) put the Green and White up 1-0 with his seventh tally of the season. Classmate Travis Williams (Springfield, Pa./Springfield Township) fed Ports along the right side of the pitch allowing the speedy Ports to get just ahead of his defender. Given a split second to shoot, the All-American slipped the game’s opening salvo into the left-side netting to provide York with the 1-0 advantage.
The Spartans nearly stretched their lead to two in the 22nd minute. Ports brilliantly created another opportunity for the Green and White along the right endline. From there, the senior forward slipped a beautiful ball back toward the penalty spot where Antonio Bua (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter-Strasburg) ran onto the pass. Bua laced a ripper that sailed over the bar howver, and out for a harmless goal kick.
The latter part of the first period belonged to the Ephs as Williams began to push the offense. That attacking effort resulted in the tying score in the match’s 43rd minute. Angus Kennedy passed a seemingly harmless ball to Patrick Ebobisse 35 yards from goal along Williams’ left side. Ebobisse unleashed an unbelievable left-footed missile that found the back of the Spartan net, knotting the score at 1-1.
After halftime, Williams drew on their first half momentum as they pushed their attack early in the second period. The Ephs posted a pair of quality chances to open the half, but senior goalkeeper Ryan Hock (Brookeville, Md./Sherwood) stood tall as he and the Spartan defense kept the score at 1-1.
In the 62nd minute, Lucas Emil (Parsippany, N.J./Morris Catholic) and Aaron Good (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown Area) combined beautifully with Kemal Nuspahic (East Petersburg, Pa./Warwick) to lead to another dangerous opportunity for the Spartans. Nuspahic’s shot went begging however as it was collected by Williams’ goalkeeper Andrew Graham.
Both sides would record dangerous chances during the final minutes of regulation but neither could break through, allowing the match to spill into overtime.
The first overtime period proved much of the same as both teams pushed to notch the game-winner, but neither was able to find paydirt.
Quite possibly the best chance of the entire afternoon came following an Eph foul in the second overtime. From nearly 45 yards out along the right side, junior Adam Good (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown Area) played an exceptional service to the far left post where Bua snapped a diving header just yards from the goal. In a display of incredible reflexes, Williams’ Graham was able to collapse onto Bua’s attempt without spilling a rebound to keep the score knotted at 1-1.
With penalty kicks to decide who would advance, the Spartans took a 1-0 lead after the first takers. Both sides would make their second, third, and fourth attempts, before York’s fifth ricocheted off the crossbar and Williams’ found the back of the net.
Now into a sudden victory situation, the Spartans and Ephs each made their ensuing two tries – numbers six and seven of the shootout. Than Finan, who had replaced Graham in the Williams’ goal specifically for the shootout, came up with the save on the York’s eighth kicker. Finan’s stop set up Matt Ratajczak who knocked home the decisive tally for the Ephs.
That 7-6 result proved the fourth time in five seasons that the York side has been ousted from the NCAA Tournament by a penalty-kick shootout.
With the shootout result, the Spartans bid adieu to their seven seniors – Hock, Ports, Williams, Aaron Good, Scott Becker (Hockessin, Del./Salesianum), Brett Sauerberger (Little Silver, N.J./Monmouth Regional), and Justin Suchoski (Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy) . Over the past four seasons, the Green and White have put together an incredible 77-4-11 record for a .896 winning percentage. Since 2006, the Spartans have garnered two Capital Athletic Conference Tournament championships and four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament.
To date, including York’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2005, the Spartans have posted a record of 7-1-5 in NCAA postseason play. York’s only true defeat came at the hands of Middlebury, 2-0, in 2007 as the Panthers went on to win the NCAA National Championship title that season.
Williams now moves on to face #4 Christopher Newport University in Sunday’s Elite Eight Round from York’s Graham Field at 1:00 pm. The Captains also advanced by way of a penalty-kick shootout as they topped Stevens Institute of Technology 4-2 in penalties after a scoreless 110 minutes of play.
The match proved exceptionally tight as both squads had numerous chances. Stevens actually outshot the Captains 16-15 while Christopher Newport held a 10-2 bulge in corners. Captain goalkeeper Justin Wolfe came up with nine saves on the afternoon as he did his part to keep the match scoreless while Duck netminder Zach Carr picked up four stops.
For more NCAA Tournament information from the York (Pa.) site please click here.
Jon Ports photo courtesy of Zach Clabaugh (www.sharpedgephoto.smugmug.com)