The Stevenson University men’s lacrosse team is currently on a five-game win streak, with wins over Tufts University, Hood College, Lynchburg College, York College and Arcadia University. As the Mustangs continue to pursue a Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Commonwealth championship and a national title, the team hopes to continue its winning form.
With a 10-8 victory over then-No. 4 York on April 8, the Mustangs have beaten a United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) top 5 ranked opponent for a third time this season. It was also the eighth time the Mustangs played a USILA top 20 team this season.
“With the schedule we play, they (our players) know we have to play every day,” said head coach Paul Cantabene. “Our schedule prepares us for our conference so we can get solid and ready for that part of the schedule. I’m confident it’s going to help our guys play at a certain level and get going.”
Although the Mustangs were left out of the USILA top 20 poll in week 4 of the NCAA Division III lacrosse season, Stevenson has since remained ranked for a fourth consecutive week. The Mustangs are ranked No. 14 in week 8, up one spot from the prior week.
“Being knocked out of the (USILA) top 20 poll really helped us as team,” said sophomore midfielder Austin Howard. “It made us refocus on fundamentals and team chemistry. It made us realize that we have to play one game at a time to get to our ultimate goal, a national championship.”
According to the Baltimore Sun, it was the first time since March 1, 2008, that Stevenson was unranked in the USILA poll. “It’s not always going to be easy. A lot of good teams have to face some adversity, come together and find who they are,” said senior Stephen Banick. “The beginning of the season wasn’t ideal for us, but we knocked off three top 10 teams. We’re coming together; we’re proud of what we’re doing and we have to keep it rolling.”
The Mustangs had back-to-back games as they resumed conference play after defeating the Arcadia Knights on April 9, the night after their victory over York. The Mustangs won 23-2, as Banick totaled 4 goals and 5 assists in the back-to-back games. Through 12 games, Banick has 19 goals and 21 assists, according to gomustangsports.com.
With victories over high-ranked teams like then No. 1 Tufts and last year’s NCAA champion runner-up Lynchburg, the Mustangs continue to build their confidence one game at a time.
They have five games remaining in the regular season before the start of the MAC Commonwealth tournament on May 4. The Mustangs hope to host the conference tournament for the fourth consecutive year since joining the MAC in 2013.
Next up, the Mustangs travel to Williamsport, Pa., to take on the Lycoming Warriors on April 13. Then they travel to Reading, Pa., to take on the Albright Lions on April 16 before coming back home to play Messiah College on April 20.