Three years after winning the NCAA Division III national championship, the men’s lacrosse team will take the field for their season opener against Alvernia University on Feb. 24. With a month’s worth of practice under their belt, the team feels ready to make another championship run.
Last season, Stevenson finished 16-5 overall and made their seventh straight NCAA tournament appearance, but hope to make a deeper run at the NCAA tournament this year. Six out of their 10 starters from last year return to the team. Preseason polls have Stevenson ranked as high as sixth overall. The Mustangs take on the second-ranked Rochester Institute of Technology’s Tigers in their second game of 2016.
Stevenson was picked unanimously by the league’s coaches to win their fourth straight Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth division championship (MAC). They received all eight first-place votes from the other coaches across the league. The Mustangs have earned respect since joining the MAC conference in 2013, going 24-0 in conference play during the regular season.
Head Coach Paul Cantabene returns for his 12th season. In the last seven years, under Cantabene’s leadership, Stevenson is one of only six other schools to make it to the NCAA tournament consecutively.
For the team and their coaches, this is familiar territory. Seniors Dylan Muti, Pat Candon and Chad Williams are three impactful players returning for their final season, and were a part of the championship team in 2013. The Mustangs hope this experience and familiarity will give them an edge in the upcoming season.
The team has braved the frigid winter weather as they prepare for the season. “Practices have been physical. Players are getting after each other to try and earn their spot. I love it,” said Cantabene.
Cantabene saw his players three years ago with the intensity and drive they needed to win a national championship. He is on the hunt this season for new players with that same attitude.
The team will sport new white uniforms and surprising new helmets this year that are sure to cause a ripple of excitement among the fans. The Mustangs face off at 7 p.m. against Alvernia on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at Mustang Stadium.