The Stevenson mens’ lacrosse needed to have a solid performance for their home opener on Saturday night against Ohio Wesleyan. The Mustangs took care of business despite the Battling Bishops making them earn their first victory of the season at Mustang Stadium.
OWU, even though trailed the entire game, managed to get within one-goal several times of Stevenson, even seconds after the Mustangs scored. But coach Paul Cantabene’s squad was not going to allow the Battling Bishops ruin the home opener and Stevenson would go on to win 16–12, in front of a boisterous crowd.
The # 7 Mustangs now turn their attention to play rivals, #1 Salisbury on the road this Tuesday, March 14 at 7 p.m.
Cantabene expressed some concern with how his defense played but is pleased with the team as a whole and will be ready to play the Seagulls. “I thought we did what we had to do. We played well offensively, we had 56 shots, guys are starting to come around. JT Thelen, after a year off playing in his third game I thought he played a lot better. Brandon Watson, a year off playing in his third game, hes getting a lot better and his speed is coming on and you can see how fast he is. But we still have to toughen up and make some plays.”
Ohio Wesleyan’s Luke Leyden scored to trail 13–12 with 9 minutes left in the fourth. But soon after Wade Korvin scored a lazer shot followed by Watson and Kyle Karsian (3-goals) to put the Mustangs ahead 16–12 with 4:14 remaining and that would be the boost the home team would need to get over the finish line.
“They had their backs against the wall and needed a win so we knew they were going to play their butts off. We just had to be the tougher team,”said senior midfielder Kyle D’Onofrio.
D’Onofrio (who’s picture was on the front of the gameday programs) had a huge first half scoring three goals anf adding an assist to bring his season total to 13.
Stevenson had 8 different goal scorers in this one. Sophomore attackman Thelen exploded with three goals and an assist. And freshman Ethan Christensen had 2 goals and 2 assists. The offense, in just their third game of the season looked in mid-season form. Moving the ball with crispness and feeling comfortbale with each other was evident.
D’ Onforio (Fallston HS alum) said theirs no one running a one man show on the offense, that its a group effort when the ball gets down on the offensive end of the field. “We know we can only win this as a team. So it is good to know we can play as a team and win as a team.”
Earlier in the day, the Seagulls crushed Washington College 14–1 in Chestertown, Md. Last season Stevenson would have lost this type of game and would have been all out of sorts heading into a game with their arch rivals. But this Stevenson team, after two solid wins against Gettysburg and Ohio Wesleyan tonight is the motivation the Mustangs need.
“I think this is a big win moving forward before (Salisbury) is really big for us,” said Thelen. “A lot of confidence and its a real confidence motivator. I’m happy we won this game at home in our first home game it feels good.”