Pushing through the pain, Stevenson’s men’s lacrosse team is committed to giving their last seven games of the season everything they’ve got. The team’s season this year has been riddled with trials after losing its first five games. These losses were further exacerbated by five injuries to the team’s defensive line.
Despite the early losses, the Mustangs pulled together and managed to win the next four games. The most notable of these wins was a 13-12 win against Stevens Institute of Technology, which went into a stunning double overtime for the Mustang victory.
“We challenged them a little bit and they came out flying,” said head coach Paul Cantabene in a post-game interview with SU TV after the game. Cantabene explained that the team wasn’t playing up to their potential in the first half, but after that break they pulled it together and came out with a narrow win in the end.
In the first half, Stevens scored nine goals on the Mustangs’ defense. After a rallying halftime, the Mustangs kept the Ducks at bay and allowed them to score only three more goals. Even with a veteran defense, this would have been an impressive feat; however, with the injuries they have sustained, the Mustangs managed to pull it out with a young defensive line.
“The new guys we put in there are really starting to come around and do a good job,” said Cantabene in an interview on Thursday. He was optimistic about the remainder of the season.
“We started off with the strongest group we have ever had in the last couple years, and in the first game we lost two of our starters,” said senior defenseman Tom Brown, who has started in all 11 games. Brown is one of the few non-injured veterans still on the defensive line.
Brown added that despite the adversity the team has faced, the replacement players have done an amazing job of stepping up and have played well. Brown was confident now that the newer players have gotten experience in multiple games, the team will continue their winning streak.
“Yeah, it’s always next man up. Everyone always has to work hard. At practice everyone is giving it their all,” said sophomore Andrew Kosco. Despite seeing little game play as a freshman, he has done well for himself, according to Cantabene. Kosco played for Notre Dame High School and was voted a defensive MVP while he was there.
Kosco said that he believes the defensive line has come together over the past few weeks and he is optimistic about the games ahead.
“The guys have played hard for most of the year, and we’ve just got to continue to build off what we’ve done and keep doing what we’re doing well,” said Cantabene in a post-game SU-TV interview.
Despite the optimism from the team on Thursday, they suffered a 13-6 loss Friday to unranked Lynchburg College, bringing the Mustangs’ four-game winning streak to a close. Stevenson was held scoreless in the second half by the Hornets, and though many of the two teams’ stats were even, the Lynchburg hosts had the advantage in turnovers and ground balls especially.
Rebounding from the loss, the team faced MAC opponent Lycoming College on April 10 and came home with a 21-9 victory. Junior J.T. Thelen tied the school record for goals (9) and assists for a total of 12 points, and sophomore Justin Burnette won 22 of 30 faceoffs. Nine Mustangs scored in the rout.
The Mustangs will still need to play Messiah College, Lebanon Valley College, Arcadia University, Hood College, and Widener University to finish out the MAC conference. Those interested in following the games can learn more at http://gomustangsports.com/sports/mlax.
The team’s next game will be against Messiah College on Saturday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at Mustang Stadium.