The Stevenson University men’s lacrosse team is gearing up for what they hope to be another successful season. As the first game approaches, the Mustangs enter the 2018 season as the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) 15th-ranked team in the country.
Last season, the Mustangs defeated Nazareth College in the second round of the NCAA Tournament after winning the Middle Atlantic Commonwealth Championship against Albright College 12-6, and earning a first-round bye. Since joining the conference, the Mustangs are 40-0 in MAC Commonwealth regular season play. The Mustangs have also won the conference championship in each of their first five seasons in the league.
Last year the team took an early exit from the NCAA Tournament, losing to RIT in the third round by a score of 17-8. The Mustangs posted an overall record of 14-6 in 2017. The team was 8-0 in MAC Commonwealth play, and held an impressive record of 9-2 at Mustang Stadium.
The team returns two of its top five goal scorers from last season, Kyle Karsian, and JT Thelen. Thelen led the team in scoring with 54 goals. He also added 27 assists for a team high 81 total points. Karsian netted 34 goals in his junior campaign. The two players combined for an eye-opening 130 total points. While the Mustangs lost three high-powered offensive players in Wade Korvin, Kyle D’Onofrio, and Tyler Fuhrman, they will be sure to have some fire power this year as well.
“We have been clicking really well on the field and have learned to play better to our strengths as a unit,” said Karsian.
Last year as a freshman, Ethan Christensen contributed 14 goals and 17 assists to the offensive side of the ball. Christensen also returns to the offense this season.
On the defensive side, the Mustangs are riding a lot of experience. Senior captain Dom DeFazio started all 20 of the games in 2017, racking up 69 ground balls and a team-high 44 caused turnovers. DeFazio earned second team All-American honors, as well as being named MAC Commonwealth Defensive Player of the Year. Along with DeFazio on defense are seniors Tom Brown, Joe Candon, Austin Howard, and Dylan Harris. The Mustangs are expecting a lot out of their senior heavy defense. All five seniors appeared in 10 or more contests last season.
“We play very well together and are tight on and off the field. Communication is key in lacrosse, and having a group with experience together is beneficial,” said long stick midfielder Howard.
In goal for the Mustangs to open the season will be sophomore goalie Sam Ross, who appeared in three contests last season. Ross came to Stevenson from the University of Maryland, where he also played goalie for the Terrapins.
The Mustangs face strong competition in the opening half of the season, playing seven of the top 15 teams in the nation. Overall, the Mustangs will play nine teams ranked in the preseason top 20 throughout the year.
“You can expect a hard working team that wants to win. Preseason prepares us for the big schedule we play. This team plays with a lot of excitement and passion,” said Howard.
“We have a very unselfish team and have a great culture this year. The team has very strong goals and we work every day to bring those goals closer to reach,” said Karsian.
The Mustangs open their 2018 campaign at Mustang Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 25 when they face fourth-ranked Denison University in a 1 p.m. contest.