FROSTBURG, MD - York College freshman Brendan Saberton (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum) found the back of the net 3:33 into the second overtime to lift the Spartan men's soccer team to a wild 4-3 double overtime Capital Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal win over the Frostburg State University Bobcats on a cold Thursday night in Frostburg, MD.
The Spartans advance to the CAC championship match where they host Mary Washington for the title and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans will be looking to win their fourth straight conference tournament title.
As dramatic as the contest was, it was chippy and physical from the start. The game was marred by a combined 25 fouls and nine yellow cards as both teams were attacking the entire game.
The Spartans opened the scoring in the 33rd minute as the senior duo of Cody Pearson (Crofton, Md./DeMatha Catholic) and Antonio Bua (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter-Strasburg) combined to give the Green and White the early lead. Pearson knocked a pass to Bua who drove home a shot into the far corner past a diving Abiye Jack for the goal.
The Spartans added to the lead less than six minutes later as senior Matt DeLong (Millville, Pa./Millville) banged in a loose ball off a Bobcat defender for the 2-0 Spartan lead. The goal was DeLong's first of the year.
The Bobcats took just over two minutes later, cutting their deficit to 2-1. Ryan Russell hit a free kick that Chris Jones tipped in for the goal as the pace of the game picked up over the final 15 minutes of the half.
York held a slight 7-6 edge in total shots while the Bobcats had the lone corner kick in the half.
Bua pushed the York lead to 3-1 20 minutes into the second half as he collected a ball in the box and blasted a shot into the left side netting. The two goals lifted his team-leading total to nine goals.
The Bobcats were awarded a questionable penalty kick on a Spartan foul in the box. Shawn Baker converted the chance, trimming York's lead to 3-2 with 17:27 left in regulation.
With the clock ticking towards triple zeroes, the Bobcats pushed up and pressed the Spartans. That pressure paid off with a header by Pablo Torrano that was not originally called a goal. After a lengthy delay, the officials awarded the Bobcats a goal and overtime would followed one minute later.
Both teams had a pair of shots in overtime with each goalie recording a save.
Saberton's game winner would come off a pass from junior Daniel Baxter (Baltimore, Md. / Calvert Hall College) as Baxter sent a cross at the top of the six yard box and Saberton's finished the chance to send the Spartans home a winner. The 3:33 second overtime shift was Saberton's first action since suffering a leg injury in early October. He hasn't played in a game since the October 6 win over Marymount.
The Spartans finished the game with a 17-16 margin in total shots while the Green and White had a slight 10-8 edge in shots on goal. The Bobcats held a 4-2 advantage in corner kicks for the match.
Senior goalie Jesse Derksen (York, Pa./Susquehannock) earned the win as he improves to 13-2-2. Derksen had five saves in recording the win. Jack registered six saves for the Bobcats as they must now wait to see if their 12-2-4 mark will be good enough to earn them an NCAA Tournament At-Large berth.
The Spartans are facing the Eagles in the conference championship game for the second time. The Spartans downed Mary Washington 3-0 on November 4, 2006 in York's third CAC championship.
The Eagles have won a conference-high eight men's soccer titles with their last championship coming in 2001. The Eagles won the first seven titles in conference history. The Spartans snapped that seven-year run when they won the 1998 title. York has won six titles and will be looking to tie Salisbury for second on the all-time CAC men's soccer championship list.
Game time for Saturday's championship clash will be determined on Friday morning.