Ludwig
Ludwig

It might be a difficult question for Mark Ludwig to answer.

The longtime York College men's soccer coach guided the Spartans to their fourth-straight Capital Athletic Conference Tournament title over the weekend. His squad achieved the feat by scoring a bunch of goals and holding opponents to a few in the three conference tournament wins. But the Spartans (17-2-2) have been doing that consistently all year.

So, it's hard to say if they're playing their best soccer of the season heading into the NCAA Division III Tournament this Saturday.

"We've scored nine goals in the last two games. So, offensively I'd say we are playing really well," Ludwig said. "If you look back to the games in the CAC Tournament, we gave up three goals, which all came in the second playoff game. But in the first and third playoff games we gave up a total of seven shots."

York s Chris Weaver, left, will be in action Saturday when the Spartans play host to St. Joseph s College.
York s Chris Weaver, left, will be in action Saturday when the Spartans play host to St. Joseph s College. (Bill Kalina photo)

York's Graham Field will be an NCAA Division III host site this weekend. There will be a pair of first-round games on Saturday and a second-round game on Sunday. The Spartans will face St. Joseph's (N.Y.) College (13-9) at 11 a.m. Saturday, which will be followed by a contest pitting Rutgers-Camden (16-2-2) against Medaille (17-2) at 1:30 p.m. The winners of those match-ups will meet 1 p.m. Sunday for a trip to the Sweet 16. In the latest d3soccer.com rankings, York is ranked No. 20 while Rutgers-Camden is No. 17. The other two schools were unranked.

Vacated: York's spot in the NCAA event may have been improved when the NCAA determined last Friday that three York forfeits stemming from an NCAA rule violation should instead be listed as "vacated."

"Had the forfeits stood, it is unlikely, or at least much less likely, that (York) would have been chosen as a host school in the tournament," d3soccer.com deputy managing editor Christian Shirk said in an email. "That means they would have had to win four straight road games to reach the Final Four."

Ludwig declined to comment on the matter.

Derksen out: In its eighth consecutive year in the NCAA tourney, York is aiming to get back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 and the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007.

But the road there is a little bit tougher since York will be without its starting goalkeeper, Jesse Derksen, on Saturday. Derksen, a Susquehannock grad, received a red card in the Spartans' conference title win over Mary Washington. Ludwig said he's not sure who will replace Derksen when the Spartans face St. Joseph's.

"We've had to have players step in all year because of injury or whatever it may be," Ludwig said. "And players have stepped in and done well. So, we'll need that to happen in goal."

St. Joseph's earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Skyline Conference Tournament last weekend. It marks the Golden Eagles' third trip to the NCAA tourney and first since 2009.

-- Reach John Walk at jwalk@yorkdispatch.com.