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RIT’s hot start too much for Stevenson

Stevenson played competitive lacrosse for the final three quarters, but were unable to overcome RIT's red-hot start.

Stevenson played competitive lacrosse for the final three quarters, but were unable to overcome RIT’s red-hot start.

Paul Cantabene said it best after his team’s loss to RIT on Saturday night at Mustangs Stadium “It’s tough to win a game when you don’t get a save in the first quarter.”

The No. 7 Stevenson men’s lacrosse team was quite competitive through the last three quarters of the game, but a miserable first quarter with a lost looking defense and struggles in the cage put them in way too big of a hole that they just could not get out of in their 18-9 loss to No. 3 RIT.

“I thought we competed for the last three quarters, we just didn’t do good in the first quarter; we were pretty bad actually,” Cantabene said. “I thought for the last three quarters we really competed and did some good things and got a chance to get pretty close at one point, but we got our run and then made some silly mistakes that hurt us again.”

The Tigers dominated at the face-off X as 2015 USILA Iriquois National Division III Most Outstanding Player of the Year Matt Hossack won 18-of-25 attempts. He was even more dominant in the first half as RIT took their huge lead.

“I think he’s a really good pole that gooses the ball around and does a lot of good things and causes trouble because he is a talented stick,” Cantabene said. “When you have a talented kid with a good stick to push through a little bit, that’s when things happened. I thought our guys battled and we’ll be a much better face-off team moving forward.”

RIT led 9-1 after the first quarter. Stevenson just could not make up for the hot RIT start and they hand no answer for star attack Ryan Lee, who scored eight goals in the game, including the first goal of the game just 1:16 into it. RIT scored seven goals off their first nine shots in the game, which prompted a goal change at the 9:15 mark. Ben Richards could not save a shot. His replacement Connor Skeen gave up two more goals in the first quarter after the change. He was able to finish with nine saves but still gave up 11 goals.

The Tigers scored five goals in six minutes before Stephen Banick gave the Mustangs a much-needed scored with 7:02 remaining in the first half to cut RIT’s lead to four, but RIT would scored four more goals before the end of the first quarter to put the game out of reach.

Though Hossack won all nine of his face-off attempts in the second quarter, Stevenson was able to make up for it with much improved defensive play. And their offense was much more patient.

“We were just sliding out of control, going half way and they were skipping us [in the first quarter],” Cantabene said. “Once we started shutting off the short sticks and playing them with our poles, we thought we had a great way to play them and they struggled to get opportunities out of that look.”

With 11:29 remaining in the half, Wade Korvin scored a goal for Stevenson after running from the far left side and into the box before ripping a sidearm shot low and into the goal during an EMO. Stevenson actually out-scored RIT 5-4 in the second quarter. However, Lee made the Mustangs pay twice for an unreleaseable one-minute unsportsmanlike penalty call on John Bethcsi.

Less than 20 seconds after being given the EMO, Lee netted his fourth goal of the game. And not even 30 seconds after that he took a pass that went across the cage and scored a close-range goal. That put RIT ahead 11-2; before the Mustangs made their strong run at the end of the half.

Dylan Muti put some life into Stevenson after he ran up the middle of the field and bounced a long shot between the posts. Then with 4:56 remaining Morgan Pritchett circled all the way around the net and scored off a whip-around shot from the left side.

Kyle Sterzin and JD Hall were able to scored back-to-back goals for the Tigers to put them back ahead by nine goals.

Just before halftime, Banick netted a second goal and in a man-up situation, Matt Tompkins scored his first of two goals after a nice series of passing around the cage.

RIT led 13-6, but Stevenson was playing much improved lacrosse. That carried into the third quarter as well, when the Mustangs seemed to figure out a way to shut RIT’s red-hot offense down. After Lee scored the first goal of the third quarter, RIT did not score again in the period while Bryce Spruill and Kyle D’Onofrio cut the Mustangs deficit down to six goals.

But though Stevenson is the No. 7 team in the country, and looked like a nationally-ranked team in the second half, the Tigers had a big fourth quarter, solidifying their victory with a 4-1 scoring advantage in the period.

“I think we’ll be fine,” Cantabene said. “We learned how to play them. We scrapped the defensive plan after the first quarter, we went to a whole different thing and that went well for us. I thought we were able to make them struggle, but we still have to play a mentally tougher game.”

RIT was another top-ranked opponent scheduled by the Mustangs. They’ll play Western New England on Saturday March 5 before getting right back into the murderers row of their schedule with three-straight ranked opponents and five ranked opponents out of their next seven games.

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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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