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Offense struggles in 8-6 loss to No. 10 Cabrini

Callum Robinson and the Stevenson defense held No. 10 Cabrini to only eight goals but the offense just couldn't get the job done as they lost their second-straight game against a highly-ranked opponent.

Callum Robinson and the Stevenson defense held No. 10 Cabrini to only eight goals but the offense just couldn’t get the job done as they lost their second-straight game against a highly-ranked opponent.

Usually coaches preach ball-movement and as many passes as possible to set up the best shooting opportunity. But sometimes, a player just has to put their head down and bull rush the cage.

No. 3 Stevenson did not seem willing to make those hard charges to the goal on Saturday night against No. 10 Cabrini in their first game of the Green Turtle Classic and it led to an 8-6 loss. Too many times Stevenson attackers had good opportunities but too many times those players opted to pass the ball and it only led to a turnover. That sort of indecision never allowed the Mustangs to get in a rhythm offensively.

“We’re not being as tough as we need to be to score goals,” Head Coach Paul Cantabene said. “I thought Cabrini was really tough today. We’re just not scoring enough tough goals. Everybody is tough defensively, you got to go hard and score some tough goals. We’re not getting the movement off the ball to score easy goals. Some of our guys are just struggling on the offensive end.”

Against the Cavaliers, Stevenson uncharacteristically only shot the ball 32 times and were held to their lowest goal-total since a 2013 loss to Tufts.

Cabrini scored the first five goals of the game at Mustangs Stadium. Mike Leyden scored the first two and another by Damian Sobieski gave the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Two quick goals in the second half put Stevenson down 5-0.

“We struggled to break the ice,” senior long-stick midfielder Taylor Morgan (Georgetown Prep) said. “We like to shoot because the great thing about lacrosse is if you take a shot bad enough you can get it back. Unfortunately, we hit the goalie in the chest a lot and didn’t get the shots we wanted.”

It wasn’t until 3:44 remaining in the first half that Stevenson got on the board when Kyle D’Onofrio (Fallston) took an inside pass and made a dodge near the crease for a score. Before then, Stevenson whiffed on several good opportunities to score.

“It took us a while to get us in a rhythm and then Cabrini’s style of offense, they like to take the air out of the ball. They were going to cycle the ball around, make some cutters. In the first quarter our time of possession wasn’t good an that hurt us,” Morgan said. “Failed clears, turnovers, out of timeouts throwing stuff away; JV stuff that kills us.”

At the end of the first quarter, Alex Harwick (Loyola) cut in and took a pass with a wide open lane to the goal. He ran in but instead of taking a shot with only one out-of-place defender in front of him, he passed the ball to his left and it seemed to even shock his teammate because he got his stick up late to receive the pass and it resulted in a turnover.

In the middle of the second quarter, Tony Rossi (Calvert Hall) faced a similar one-on-one situation, but he didn’t take the shot and his pass also resulted in a turnover. The same thing happened when long pole Josh Rufolo (Chapelgate Christian) didn’t take an open shot and instead tried to get the ball to a short-stick attacker.

Stevenson turned the ball over 32 times, the most since the turned the ball over 36 times against Marymount (Va.) on April 13, 2008.

“A lot of those turnovers are unforced. They are simple passing mistakes,” Cantabene said. “We’re struggling with the mental game. That’s not what we’re about. Usually, it’s been a mentally tough team put in the position to make the plays.”

Stevenson was able to net one more goal before the end of the first half, but they didn’t even score it. Cabrini defender Mike Crowley made a pass to his goalkeeper Tyler Morrell, but Morrell, who finished the game with 11 saves, mishandled the ball and it resulted in an own-goal.

Cabrini still led 6-2 at the break.

Late in the third quarter, Stevenson was able to get going offensively. Sobieski put Cabrini up 7-2 midway through the quarter but Stevenson out-scored the Cavaliers 4-1 in the final five minutes of the third quarter and the first minute of the fourth quarter to get back in the game.

But they were shut out the rest of the game.

“The offense has to come together and start selling out a bit,” Cantabene said. “We make far too many mistakes for a team that is supposed to be good and right now obviously we’re not very good.”

Maybe a blessing of the tournament format, Stevenson will be forced to have a short memory about the loss with a game less than 24 hours later against Cortland on Sunday.

“At the end of the day it’s a regular season loss. They suck, no one enjoys it, you hang your head and you try in your pillow but luckily we get up tomorrow, we get to fight someone else and we get to show the world we’re better,” Taylor said.

“You do forget about (the loss) but you don’t forget about the scars. You remember where your scars come from,” he added. “This is another one in the loss column, that’s unacceptable. This team should have zero…No one is point fingers. No one is naming names, everyone understand they could have played together. Tomorrow we’re going to come out here and give Cortland the best we got.”

Ben Richards had 10 saves for the Mustangs while Lito Flanagan and Callum Robinson each led the team with five ground balls in the strong defensive performance. Stevenson won the ground-ball battled 34-39 and forced five failed clears for the Cavaliers.

Justin Buonomo dominated at the faceoff X with 10 of the team’s 12 faceoff victories. Stevenson went 12-5 from the X. But 32 turnovers and only 32 shots just didn’t allow their offense to get in the rhythm it needed to get into to beat another nationally ranked opponent.

Stevenson is now 3-3 but all three losses have come against top 10 opponents. Cortland is ranked No. 7 in the country. They lost to No. 11 Lynchburg in the Green Turtle Classic, 15-8.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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