YORK, PA – York College sophomore defender Josh Kluver (Abington, Pa./Abington) scored the game-winning goal with three seconds left in regulation as the Spartans edged Ursinus College 10-9 in non-conference action on a brilliantly sunny Sunday afternoon in York.
The 19th ranked Spartans improve to 11-3 overall while the Bears, who knocked off the Spartans last year in Collegeville, fall to 6-4 with the loss.
Kluver's heroics didn't look possible early in the game as Ursinus dominated the first quarter on the scoreboard as they led 4-1 after 15 minutes of play.
Both teams tallied two goals in the second quarter as the Bears took the 6-3 lead to the intermission.
The Green and White started to climb back into the game in the third quarter as senior Seth Krolus (Westminster, Md./Loyola Blakefield) tallied an unassisted goal 2:01 into the half. Chris Varela (Easton, Pa./Easton) and Joseph Joseph (Hollywood, Md./St. Mary's Ryken) followed with goals to tie the game at six.
The Bears responded with a pair of goals from Rob Dewey and Mark Stratton to recapture the lead heading to the fourth.
The Spartans responded in impressive fashion to open the fourth. Andrew Gamble (Easton, Md./Easton) started the comeback with a highlight reel goal just 1:10 into the final quarter of play. Varela stuck again with an impressive goal inside the right post with 6:10 left in the game, tying the contest at eight.
The Bears won the ensuing face off and had possession for just over a minute but Kluver caused a turnover to give York the ball with 2:27 left in the game. The Spartans cleared the ball but turned it over 25 seconds later as the Bears got another chance. The Spartans got another turnover but turned it over themselves with 46 seconds left. Ursinus got the game-tying goal off the stick of Logan Panaccione with just 27 seconds left.
Ursinus notched a face off win but Krolus forced a turnover with 14 seconds left. That's when Kluver scooped up the ground ball and sprinted towards the Spartans' offensive zone. With time ticking away in regulation, Kluver drove the ball down to towards the Spartan goal. He was greeted by a defender but Kluver managed to turn the corner and flipped a back handed shot into the net as he cut across the goal mouth with just three seconds left.
York won the ensuing face off as the horn went off, giving the Spartans the improbable win.
Spartan head coach Brandon Childs gave credit to his standout defender.
"I attributed the who goal to Bubba (Kluver's nickname). He wants to win more than any kid I have ever coached. He just wants his team to win. That play was just an example of him doing whatever it took to give his team the win."
The Spartan offense was very balanced as eight different players scored goals. Gamble and Varela each scored two goals while Gamble added an assist for three points. Krolus had three points on a goal, two assists, seven ground balls and the game-winning caused turnover.
Freshman Garrett Barker (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) was fantastic on defense for York with a career-high six caused turnover and a career-high five ground balls. In addition to his game-winning goal, Kluver had three caused turnovers and two ground balls.
The Bears received goals from eight different players led by Stratton as he tallied a pair of goals. Dylan Spangenberg contributed three points on a goal and two assists for the Bears. Shawn Caven was very good at the X for the Bears as he was 10-for-16 with seven ground balls.
The Spartans outshot the Bears 29-22 while Ursinus held a 35-30 margin in ground balls. York forced 18 Ursinus turnovers while the Spartans committed 13 miscues.
Caleb Abney (Forest Hill, Md./Fallston) posted his 20th career win for the Spartans as he notched seven saves in his 57:47 of work. He allowed seven of the Bears' nine goals.
Brian Neff was impressive for the Bears as he made 12 saves in his 60 minutes of play. He allowed the ten Spartan goals.
Childs talked about the Spartans attitude of picking each other up and relying on teammates to make plays.
"We talked a lot after the Eastern loss that if one guy messes up, all it takes is one guy to make a big play and bail his buddy out. At halftime, the stats were even, and the game was even but we weren't even on the scoreboard. I felt like they were repeatedly making the one big play and we weren't. At halftime all we talked about was making one big play. A ground ball in traffic or a easy check. In the second half you saw all their turnovers as we did a much better job of making plays."
The win for the Spartans completed a brutal stretch of four games in seven days. The Spartans picked up wins in all four of those games, something that Childs was very proud of.
"I am proud of my guys for winning four games in seven days. There aren't too many teams in the country that will be able to say that tomorrow morning. It takes a toll because you have to prepare for four different opponents. It makes us 5-0 against the Centennial and that's a pretty good league. It's good for the profile of the CAC.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Wesley to face the Wolverines in a non-conference contest. Game time in Dover is set for 1:00 pm.