MD3 Notes: Offensive Depth Aids York's Dominance
Among the early season surprises so far in Division III has been York (Pa.), which has gotten off to an impressive 4-0 start and moved into the Nike/LM Top 20 poll this week at No. 12 thanks to a convincing victory at Roanoke.
That the Spartans are winning games isn't too much of a shock. Coach Brandon Childs has been building York into a solid program for four years now and he's gone 48-25 since taking over the job. But just how dominant York has been in the early going has certainly been noteworthy. Heading into Wednesday's matchup with No. 6 Gettysburg, the Spartans had won by an average of 10.5 goals, which included a 12-6 victory against No. 13 Roanoke.
"What jumps out to me right away about our offense is our depth," Childs said. "We are running three midfield lines with little to no drop off at all and playing five different attackmen. This depth has given our group a lot of confidence in a lot of different guys to make plays. In the past, we really relied on one or two key guys and that has allowed teams to focus in on one guy to slow us down. This year, we have a lot of contributors."
So far, the major contributors have been senior attackman Andrew Gamble and freshman Hunter Davis. Gamble scored 11 goals with six assists through four games while Davis has started his college career off with nine goals and five assists.
Davis isn't the only young player making a difference for the Spartans. Sophomore Dillon Hannah is third on the team with 10 points while freshmen Cameron Leech (four goals, two assists) and Brendan McGrath (six goals, one assist) have also been heavily involved in the offense.
While inexperience like that can be a detriment to some teams, Childs said with this group it's allowed the Spartans to stay loose and hungry heading into big games.
"I think our confidence has grown from game to game, but to be honest, I think our group is too young and naive to really know any better," he said. "Our approach has just been one game at a time and to focus on the things we can control. For the Roanoke game, it was the ground balls in the middle of the field. We felt like if we won the 50/50 balls we would limit their transition and at the same time give us more opportunities for our offense to click. Each game has a new focus and our guys are doing a good job with keeping it simple and that has lead to some confidence."
It's all set up what has become a big non-conference game in South Central Pennsylvania between York and Gettysburg. The Bullets have been the region's dominant program, but York could make a statement with a victory.
"Gettysburg will be good test for our team," Childs said. "They provide a new set of challenges and we will try and have our guys prepared and focused on what it's going to take to come out on top. I am not sure the proximity of the two schools has entered anyone's mind. Our guys are just excited to play everyday and I am sure they will be on Wednesday."
In a similar situation to York is Frostburg State, which has impressed with a 5-0 start heading into Wednesday's game against Lycoming. The Bobcats had been a part of three blowouts to start the season before sneaking past Messiah 8-6 and following it up with a 7-6 upset of No. 17 Ursinus.
Faceoffs have been key for Frostburg, which has won a spectacular 78 of 97 draws so far. That responsibility has been split between Erik Geiser and Kyle Horak. Geiser, a senior captain from Berlin, Md., has won 48 of 60 faceoffs, while Horak, a junior from Dunkirk, Md., is 26 of 32.
Stepping Up for Jumbos
Two-time defending national champion Tufts nearly suffered a big upset loss in its season opener versus Stevens last week, but the Jumbos were able to rally and come away with a victory.
Predictably, it was the experience of Tufts that seemed to come through just in a knick of time. Trailing by two goals in the fourth quarter, the Jumbos got back-to-back scores from senior midfielder Kyle Howard-Johnson, who has been a key member of both national championship squads. Howard-Johnson scored with 14:50 and 6:49 remaining in regulation to make it a 12-12 game.
Howard-Johnson, some might remember, had a similar offensive outburst in the second half of last year's national semifinals against Rochester Institute with four of his six goals coming after the four-minute mark of the third quarter to help the Jumbos break a close game wide open.
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