Entering the 2019 season, Stevenson’s men’s lacrosse team is filled with high expectations, aspiring to win the MAC conference championship once again.
This is the 15th season for head coach Paul Cantabene at the helm of the Mustangs. He believes this group is in a great position to succeed, especially because of how much more unified this group is, when compared to past teams.
Stevenson faced off against Ursinus College on Feb. 16 for the first game of the season for both teams. The Mustangs, who ranked No. 17 at the time, entered the final quarter of the contest with a two-goal lead of 9-7. However, the Mustangs went on to give up six unanswered goals in the final quarter, falling to Ursinus with a score of 13-9, dropping SU out of the top-20 USILA rankings.
Both the coaches and players had similar takes on the result of the contest. First-year faceoff specialist Nic Pomerleau said how disappointed the team was in their performance especially their effort in the fourth quarter, adding that evidently it came down to the team who wanted it more.
Cantabene echoed that he and his coaching staff were disappointed, believing that they had made too many silly mistakes that Ursinus then capitalized on. Cantabene also spoke to the fact they he thought the Mustangs didn’t come into the contest with enough respect for their opponent.
The coach talked about aspects the team could improve on, emphasizing the importance of playing smarter defense as well as taking smarter shots. The Mustangs out-shot Ursinus 54-41, according to gomustangssports.com, yet the Mustangs could tally only nine goals, despite having 10 fewer turnovers than Ursinus and five more ground balls.
Following the home opener defeat, Cantabene preached to his team to remember what they set out to do, asserting that if they do things the right way, success will follow. He also mentioned how hard it is to win in, especially with such a stout out-of-conference schedule.
The Mustangs traveled to No. 9-ranked Denison University on Feb. 23, notching their first game in the win column as they beat the Big Red with a score of 13-6, improving to 1-1 overall while also climbing back into the top-20 USILA rankings at No.19. The Mustangs’ strong first quarter (6 goals) propelled them to the victory. Stevenson was led by senior attackman J.T. Thelen’s five goals, with two added by midfielder Jacob Tatum and two by midfielder Gray McKee. Thelen, along with junior goalie Sam Ross were named to the USILA Division III Team of the Week on Tuesday following that victory.
For the second straight week, Stevenson outshot their opponent, this time 52-41. The Mustangs also took advantage of man-up opportunities, as they cashed in on four of six chances.
The Mustangs will travel to No. 8-ranked Gettysburg College on March 2 where they will round out their two-game away stand. The Mustangs will then return home on March 9 to face off against Salisbury University, currently ranked No. 2 in the country.