YORK, Pa. – So what do you get when you lose seven
outstanding seniors, the 2009 Division III National
Player-of-the-Year, do not really feature a star player, and bring
in a slew of newcomers?
Well…you get one of the top teams in the country.
The 2010 York College men’s soccer squad begins this campaign with exceptionally high expectations despite the departure of one of the most successful senior classes in program history.
Over the past four seasons, the Green and White accumulated a sparkling 77-4-11 mark including four straight trips to the NCAA Tournament and two Capital Athletic Conference Tournament championships.
“There is no doubt that we lost a number of talented players,” Spartan head coach Mark Ludwig said as he begins his 12th season at the helm of the program. “Those guys were nothing short of instrumental to the success that we have been able to achieve. However, now we need to move forward. We believe that with the quality of players we have this season, we will be able to maintain that high standard we have achieved in the past.”
If you talk to the Spartan squad the one word that is continually mentioned is depth. And that is exceedingly true. This, in fact, may be the deepest squad in program history. Not one of the most, but the most.
“We are fortunate this year that we should have a rotation of 18-20 players,” Ludwig said. “It is a situation where I can see different players starting each match. We will have to see who is in the best form going into each game. And at the same time we will have players that can come off the bench and not only maintain our level of play but raise it.”
The Spartans head into the campaign featuring a strong attack. York returns over 57 percent of their scoring from last season, including five of their top eight scorers.
Highlighting the Spartan attacking unit are 2009 All-CAC first-team choices Kemal Nuspahic and Mike O’Connell. Nuspahic, a junior in 2010, was second on the squad last year with 22 points on eight goals and six assists. His efforts over his first two collegiate seasons have garnered him first-team all-conference and all-region accolades as a freshman and sophomore. O’Connell, a 2009 All-CAC selection, totaled a team-best ten goals last year. The most experienced Spartan, he begins his fifth season with the program, following a 2008 medical red-shirt, and should be able to utilize that vast knowledge of the collegiate game.
“With Nuspahic and O’Connell we have two attacking players that can put the ball in the back of the net,” Ludwig raved. “They have both experienced tremendous success and we are going to call on both of them to finish off our attacks.”
Returning to the York attack Antonio Bua, Seth Hurley, and Max Howie. Bua sports a nearly unlimited potential and could shine in his second season with Spartans. Hurley’s athleticism and physical skills are among the best on the team while Howie will provide solid depth for the attacking unit.
The Spartans are going to rely heavily however, on a quality group of newcomers. Michael Andrei (Elizabethtown), Justin Facer (Maine, sat out with the Spartan program last season), Chris Weaver (Towson), and Ryan McNamee (Holy Family) transfer into the Spartan program for the 2010 campaign. Andrei will bring dangerous play into the attack and should figure heavily in York’s rotation. Facer, who brings exceptionally pace out wide, will be in position for a starting nod each match. Weaver possesses tremendous speed and is another new Spartan who will battle for a spot in the first eleven while McNamee, another dangerous attacking threat, will give the Green and White quality minutes on the left side. Overall, each has experienced quality success within the collegiate ranks and will look to bring that success to the Green and White. True freshman Jimmy Garrison brings a nose-for-the-goal after leading Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in scoring during each of the previous three seasons.
“Where in years past we may have only been able to score during a certain 60 minutes of the contest we believe that this season we will be dangerous throughout all 90 minutes of each match,” Ludwig commented about the Spartan attack as a whole. “We will have different combinations of players that can provide quality around the goal. As long as we gel and continue to get better throughout the season, I see no reason why we cannot have one of Division III’s most dangerous attacks.”
Through the central midfield, the Green and White feature a pair of returning All-CAC performers. Lucas Emil and Mike Gill enter the season as one of the top midfield pairings in the nation. Emil, a two-time all-conference and all-region choice, brings flair and playmaking ability to the middle of the park while he is also deadly on set pieces. Gill is a tough, ball-winning midfielder who brings significant bite to the Spartan lineup.
“With Emil and Gill in the central midfield we feel very good about the quality and consistency we will have there,” Ludwig raved. “While they each bring a little something different, they compliment each other well bring a lot into the attack.”
Adding into that central midfield mix are freshmen Pablo Martinez and Hobie Ramin. Already hailed by the coaching staff as one of the Spartans top players, Martinez possesses ability that will allow him to carve out significant playing time in just his rookie campaign. Ramin, an extremely technical player will not only provide will look to provide depth in his first season with the Green and White.
“With Martinez and Ramin we have a great deal of quality,” Ludwig said. “Martinez has been outstanding throughout our preseason camp. He carries a confidence about him, which can be rare in freshmen. Ramin will push for time as he continues to improve day-by-day.”
Defensively, the Spartans look to be in good shape despite the departure of three of their regular backs from 2009. One of the main reasons for that optimism is the return of senior Adam Good, who enters his second season as a Spartan captain, to the central defense. Good, an All-CAC and all-region first-team choice last season, brings grit, leadership, and invaluable experience to the defensive unit. Joining Good in the center, junior Andy Stromberg will look to transition from outside back to the middle. Given Stromberg’s quality experience and toughness, that transition should be a smooth one.
“We need to have quality at the center back position,” Ludwig said. “You need to be confident, tough, and smart. These two not only possess those attributes but all have outstanding communication skills. In Good and Stromberg we believe we have quality in the middle of our back line.
Rejoining the defensive ranks are Treyton Good, Cody Pearson, Grant Anikienko, Matt DeLong, and Doug Bauer. After his 2008 All-CAC performance, Good suffered a knee injury partway through the 2009 campaign that sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He will now look for a return to the Spartan backline as well as his exceptional 2008 form. Pearson, a left-footed sophomore, provided the Green and White with quality minutes as a reserve last season and will look to battle for a spot in the first eleven in 2010. Anikienko and DeLong, both second-year Spartans, are athletic defenders that will give the Spartans significant depth. Bauer will add even more solid depth to the Green and White defense.
In addition to their quality returners, the Spartans welcome several new players looking to make their mark on the back line. Douglas Moore, who transfers in from Wilkes, Aaron Beale (brother of former Spartan Matt Beale), Matt Yackel, Jason Good (brother of current Spartan Adam Good), and Mike Kane are each talented newcomers that could find themselves in the rotation sooner rather than later. Moore saw outstanding success at Wilkes where he was an All-MAC selection. Beale is a versatile rookie whose great speed will help him play in almost any spot. Yackel’s technical ability will help him to contribute early out wide while Good is an intelligent central defender that will provide outstanding depth. Kane, who is exceptional in the air, is another rookie who gives York added quality as a center back.
“All of these players are very good,” Ludwig commented. “At this point it is just a matter of who steps forward to take control of the minutes in the back.”
Goalkeeping, traditionally one of the Spartans’ strengths, looks to again be one of the squad’s best positions. Jesse Derksen, York’s only returning netminder from the 2009 campaign, will look to hold down the #1 spot. His combination of athleticism, experience, and confidence will allow him to be one of the top goalkeepers in the region, if not the country.
Looking to push Derksen will be newcomers Ethan Kavanagh and Ebe Matey. Both transfers, Kavanagh from Division II Wilmington (Del.) and Matey from Division I Rutgers, bring a tremendous amount of quality to the goalkeeping ranks and have the ability to push Derksen as well as keep up the standard of play when called upon.
“We really like where we are and what we have with our goalkeepers,” Ludwig said. “Derksen, who has come in recentered and refocused, has the ability to be an All-American type of goalkeeper. Kavanagh has tremendous size and has improved tremendously so far. Matey has a great deal of raw athletic ability that he will be able to hone throughout the year. All told, each of three could give us quality minutes at any point during the season.”
With such a deep and talented roster, the 2010 Spartans hold the promise of yet another outstanding campaign. However, in what has become a hallmark of the program, the Green and White once again face a tremendously difficult schedule.
York faces six teams ranked in the final 2009 NSCAA top-25 poll, including Division III National Champion Messiah College. The Spartans also take to the pitch against #10 Johns Hopkins, #15 Stevens Tech, #20 Salisbury, #24 Lynchburg, and #25 Medaille at various points throughout the season as well as facing an always difficult CAC slate.
“No doubt we have an extremely challenging schedule,” Ludwig said. “We want to challenge our players day-in and day-out with the best competition in the country. And we believe our players want that challenge. It is important to measure ourselves against the best teams in the nation and we believe this schedule allows us to do just that.”
The Spartans will begin that challenging schedule on Wednesday, September 1, when they travel to Millville, Pa. There the Green and White will open their season against Susquehanna under the lights at Millville High School’s Millard C. Ludwig Stadium, named for Coach Ludwig’s late father, in a 7:00 p.m. non-conference contest.
“If we continue to work hard. If we continue to get better every day,” Ludwig said, “I fell that once again we can be one of the top teams in the country.”