York Suburban High School graduate Ryan Donahue is expected to be a key player for the York College men’s soccer team this season.
York Suburban High School graduate Ryan Donahue is expected to be a key player for the York College men's soccer team this season. (BILL KALINA -- bkalina@yorkdispatch.com.)

Success often generates various byproducts.

Some are tangible, such as the trophies stacked up by the York College men's soccer team during Coach Mark Ludwig's 15 years with the program.

Others are intangible, such as the high expectations that Ludwig has for his team every season.

All the winning the Spartans have done over the years, though, has led to the program getting noticed more by potential out-of-state recruits, which Ludwig doesn't mind. As a result, however, he's learned not all those players want to stick around once they get to York.

For instance, this year's 2013 squad is missing seven players who were on last year's roster and still have eligibility remaining for this year.

One has opted to move up to a higher level of collegiate competition (last year's Capital Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year Matty Martinez).

Another left the school because it doesn't carry his major (forward Andy Murray).

And another left because he was homesick (Minnesota native Eli Bjerk).

And Ludwig is unsure about the future of four other players not returning to play.

"There were a couple freshmen that struggled a little bit and we're just moving forward," Ludwig said last Thursday while observing his team on the practice field outside the Grumbacher Center. "(Some) academically, but it was more homesickness. We're starting to get kids from all over the country, so that comes into play a little bit more than when ... we had kids from just York and Lancaster."


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About two-thirds of last year's roster was made up of players from out-of-state (22-of-31), compared to just half who fit that category in Ludwig's first year as head coach in 1999 (13-of-25).

"I think as we got more successful, the more people started looking at our program, and if we have the right majors then they want to come and play here," Ludwig said.

Coach Mark Ludwig has helped transform York College into a men’s soccer power on the NCAA Division III level.
Coach Mark Ludwig has helped transform York College into a men's soccer power on the NCAA Division III level. (BILL KALINA -- bkalina@yorkdispatch.com.)

On top of the seven players not returning, York also lost six players to graduation, including standouts Antonio Bua, Jesse Derksen, Justin Facer and Cody Pearson. Still, the turnover isn't likely to slow down York, the four-time defending Capital Athletic Conference champion and a qualifier for the NCAA Division III Tournament the last eight years.

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America certainly feels that way, too. The Spartans are ranked No. 8 in Division III in the NSCAA preseason poll. After finishing last year ranked No. 12, York is the only CAC team ranked in the Top 25 entering this season, which begins Friday at Lycoming. That's followed by its home opener Sunday against North Carolina Wesleyan.

The Spartans went 18-2-4 last fall and reached the NCAA Sweet 16, where it lost to Messiah on penalty kicks.

"I still think about that a lot," said returning sophomore midfielder Ryan Donahue, a York Suburban High School graduate. "We played them twice last year, but that's the one that sticks out the most."

One of eight returning starters, Donahue will get a chance to avenge that loss when York plays host to top-ranked Messiah on Sept. 24. Of course, Ludwig isn't letting his team think too far ahead.

"I don't even know where that game (Messiah) is even at (on the schedule)," Ludwig said. "I know it's somewhere in the middle of the season. Obviously being local and being close, it's a big game."

Notes: Incoming freshman Christian Bonilla, a Dover grad, will join Donahue as the only two players from York County on the roster. ... The Spartans added two new assistant coaches, including John Barton, who compiled a 73-27-5 record as the West York boys' coach from 2004 to 2009.

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