York College s Cody Pearson (6) upends Gettysburg s Parker Delmolino as they chase after the ball during Wednesday s men s soccer match. The host Spartans
York College s Cody Pearson (6) upends Gettysburg s Parker Delmolino as they chase after the ball during Wednesday s men s soccer match. The host Spartans earned 1-0 non-conference win at Graham Field. (Bill Kalina photo)

Perhaps it worked out best for both sides when they parted ways last October.

Jesse Derksen's teammates on the York College men's soccer team believe he's grown up now. And Derksen, a Susquehannock High School graduate, feels he handles difficult situations better than he did in the past.

"Things happen for a reason," Derksen said Wednesday at Graham Field after collecting three saves in the Spartans' 1-0 non-conference win over Gettysburg.

The 6-foot, 175-pound goalie was dismissed from the York College team for various reasons just a month into the 2011 season.

"I wasn't acting mature in the situation. I didn't handle it properly," he said. "But I learned from it and I'm back."

York College goalie Jesse Derksen, right, beats Gettysburg s Will Gately to the ball during Wednesday s match. Derksen, a Susquehannock grad, had three
York College goalie Jesse Derksen, right, beats Gettysburg s Will Gately to the ball during Wednesday s match. Derksen, a Susquehannock grad, had three saves to help the Spartans improve to 11-2-1 on the season. Taylor Brummitt scored York s lone goal. (Bill Kalina photo)

It wasn't until tryouts for walk-ons shortly before the 2012 season that Derksen had a change of heart and wanted to return to the team.

"I wanted to come back for my parents and give back with everything they've given me," Derksen said. "I sat down and talked to the captains and the coaching staff and they were willing, based on my performance, to give me another shot. I had to show that I really do have my head (on straight)."

By all accounts, Derksen has done just that so far this season.

"He's done what we've asked him to do," longtime coach Mark Ludwig said. "He's been a good leader and we're just trying to make him better for life and he's responded to that."

Spartans: Derksen's return sealed up the biggest hole York had entering the 2012 season.

The Spartans brought back their top four scorers, along with most of their midfielders and defense, from the 2011 squad that went on a 10-game winning streak to capture the Capital Athletic Conference championship before losing in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. But they lost four seniors to graduation, including goalkeeper Ethan Kavanaugh.

With the win Wednesday, York improved to 11-2-1. The Spartans, currently ranked 14th in the NCAA Division III rankings and 10th by d3soccer.com, have had success thanks to a strong offense, led by senior forward Antonio Bua and junior forward Taylor Brummitt, who had the Spartans' game-winner Wednesday.

York has outscored opponents 36-10 and is 7-2-1 in the 10 games Derksen has started. Derksen has collected two shutouts, 31 saves and has a 0.51 goals-against average, which ranks 27th among all D-III goalies.

Goals: Three of York's final four regular-season games are against conference opponents.

The Spartans (3-0 CAC) are aiming for a fourth straight CAC title and eighth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. It'll be a little easier to accomplish those feats with Derksen in goal. In his senior year, the keeper said possibly playing in the final season of his soccer career is all the motivation he needs.

"I have the experience and the ability. It's application," he said. "And that's where I kind of lost my head last year. I knew I had some skill. I knew I had some abilities and some gifts and I just let those carry me. Now that I was away from the game for almost a year I know what I need to do."

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