Spartan Unity, Passion Evident in York-Salisbury Rivalry
YORK, Pa.. – York men's soccer (16-4, 8-0 CAC) and Salisbury (12-3-4, 6-2 CAC) traditionally have a fierce rivalry, and the Spartans' 1-0 win back on October 23 over the Sea Gulls only made it fiercer.
The players are well aware of the history between the two teams, as No. 20 York and No. 25 Salisbury are consistently ranked as two of the top teams in the nation. What makes the matchups so much more meaningful is that both teams are also members of the Capital Athletic Conference.
"Going into games with Salisbury I would like to say my mindset is the same as it is for every other game," senior captain midfielder Lucas Emil said, "But there is something extra because of the deep roots of the rivalry."
After losing to three ranked teams earlier in the season (No. 6 Johns Hopkins, No. 12 Stevens, and No. 10 Messiah) and another to unranked Kean, the Green and White came into that October 23 game against then No. 8 Salisbury knowing a win would be crucial to the remainder of the season.
"Our basic motivation for the game was that with a win, it would not only give us the regular season conference title, but also give us momentum moving forward and put ourselves in the driver's seat for the playoffs," Emil said.
Even the underclassmen know the importance of the rivalry.
"My favorite part about the York-Salisbury games is the history that we already have with them," sophomore midfielder Antonio Bua said. "The fact that both teams know it's not a game; it's war."
In the 17th minute, Bua netted the only goal of the game. Minutes later, junior midfielder Mike Gill drew two yellow cards to earn a red card, leaving the Spartans to play a man down for the rest of the game.
The rest of the team, however, showed Gill they had his back.
"Gill's red card was obviously quite a big loss for us on the field, but also knowing that we were going to play without a vocal leader and captain was an opportunity for other guys to step up, and they did," Emil said. "The team came together and all agreed that we would play the rest of the game just like Gill would have: hard-fought and with a never-say-die attitude. And that is exactly what we went out and did."
In addition to Gill's cards dished out Saturday. Between the two teams, there were a combined eight yellow cards and three reds.
"The win at Salisbury was one of the most hard-fought games I have been a part of in five years," said senior captain forward Mike O'Connell, who redshirted most of the 2008 season because of a knee injury. "I think it proves that we will do literally whatever it takes to win. That is what makes this team special."
"This win gives us some momentum going into the last regular season game, which will hopefully carry over into the playoffs," said sophomore midfielder Justin Facer. "It also shows that we are capable of beating one of the top teams in the country."
Facer came to the Spartans prior to the 2009 season from Division I University of Maine, and Saturday he played in his first York-Salisbury game.
"Before I transferred here I had never heard of Salisbury before," Facer noted. "But when I got here, I found out from the guys that Salisbury was one of our biggest rivals, especially because they were in our conference."
The Spartans now clash with the Sea Gulls on Saturday, November 6, at 2:00 pm on York's Graham Field in the championship match of the 2010 CAC Tournament. On the line is not only the CAC title but also the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
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Feature written by Todd Shellock - York College Athletic Communications contributing writer