Last season was a bit of an anomaly for the York College men's soccer program.
It was the first time in program history that the Spartans failed to qualify for the Capital Athletic Conference playoffs. York's streak of five straight conference titles (2009-2013) also came to a bitter end.
Then in December, longtime head coach Mark Ludwig resigned, leaving the program in uncharted territory on many levels.
The first step in trying to return the Spartans to prominence on the pitch came with the hiring of a familiar face to replace Ludwig.
Evan Scheffey was a four-year starting defensive standout for York from 2005-2008. He had previously served as the lead assistant and recruiting coordinator at Virginia Wesleyan College since 2013 before being hired by York in March.
The second step for Scheffey's Spartans came with Tuesday's season-opening 4-1 home victory against Stevenson University.
"I think we were all just excited and chomping at the bit to get the first one under our belt," Scheffey said. "I think for all of us, preseason is a long two weeks, just getting through the grind of it,"
York was able to control much of the first half with a combination of offensive pressure and a tight defense. The Spartans saw the bulk of its scoring chances in the first 45 minutes, registering 10 shot attempts (with two shots on goal) while allowing the Mustangs just two quality chances and a shot on goal. For the game, York had 19 attempts against Stevenson's four, and York claimed a 6-3 margin in shots on goal.
A smothering defense was also instrumental in the Spartans starting the season on the right note. York didn't allow the Mustangs to move the ball past midfield for much of the first half.
Scheffey, a three-time All-CAC First Team selection, a 2008 NCAA Division III All-American and a member of two CAC title teams, was pleased with his first look at his team.
"Up until we gave up that goal, defensively, we were organized and we were disciplined," he said. "And as you start to tire, the mind starts to go a little, and we let down and they got a goal. We talk about collectively defending. It's about everyone being willing to defend and having that mentality. But for the most part, I thought the back four did a good job. They managed the game well and kept the game in front of us."
That defensive unit features a York-Adams alum in senior captain Ryan Donahue from York Suburban.
Scoring: Anthony Flores got the scoring started for the Spartans. On a restart, Flores bent a free kick from 24 yards out past the Mustang defense before tucking the ball in the lower-left corner past the reach of Stevenson goalie Ryan Callinan. York would ride Flores' marker to a 1-0 halftime lead.
York was ultimately able to extend its lead to 2-0 on a Chris Hobbs goal midway through the second half.
A crisp passing display helped York put the game away late. Joel Teston advanced the ball down the left side before passing back to Greg Bechard, who used his first touch to quickly feed the ball ahead to Nigel Robinson as the defense collapsed. The speedy Robinson sprinted past his man, collected the ball and buried a shot past Callinan to put York ahead at 3-0 with 8:40 left in the second half.
"I think for us, overall, (we gained) confidence moving forward. I thought the second half we moved the ball a lot better and really put them on their heels and really finished our chances better than we did in the first half," Scheffey said.
Stevenson ended Spartan goalkeeper Charlie Johnson's bid for a shutout with Lorenzo Wright's goal with just under seven minutes left.
The Spartans answered right back, when Bechard closed the game's scoring with a goal less than two minutes later. Bechard finished with a goal and an assist.
OTHER YORK COLLEGE EVENTS
Women's soccer team blanked by Ursinus: The York College women's soccer team opened its 2015 campaign with a 3-0 loss Tuesday at Ursinus. Jeannie Jasinski led the Bears with a pair of goals. Stevi Lukacz took the loss in net for the Spartans, recording five saves. Kate Lutte also saw time in net for York, stopping four of the five shots she saw.
Spartans swept by F&M in women's volleyball: York College saw its women's volleyball season get off to an 0-1 start with a loss to F&M at home Tuesday. The Spartans fell in straight sets, 19-25, 14-25, 23-25. Leading the way for the Spartans were Brooke Krebs and Heather Kline, who each recorded six kills. Molly McCann handed out 21 assists for York, and Katherine Graziano was tops defensively with 30 digs.
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.