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No. 7 Mustangs show resolve in win over OWU

Kyle Karsian was one of three Mustangs players to post hat tricks against Ohio Wesleyan.

It was a really good, gritty, and gutsy win that the No. 7 Stevenson men’s lacrosse team earned on Saturday night against No. 20 Ohio Wesleyan in their home opener at Owings Mills Stadium. The Mustangs never trailed, but the Battling Bishops never let them pull away until the end of the game and both teams always had an answer for what the other team did. But Stevenson showed off their resolve for the 16-12 victory.

“We’re a much tougher team than we were a year ago,” Stevenson head coach Paul Cantabene said. “There is no question these guys are tough and motivated. We would have lost that game last year but we’re tougher, mentally tougher, bigger and faster and we’re getting there.”

Stevenson’s defense, with defender Lito Flanagan battling through injury, was not at it’s best against the Battling Bishops. However, goalkeeper Ross Dinan had a big game with 14 saves and the offense was hitting on all cylinders. Eight Mustangs scored goals in the game with a trio netting hat tricks.

JT Thelen and Kyle D’Onofrio both has three goals with an assist each in the game. Kyle Karsian was the third Stevenson player to score three goals in the game. With two goals and two assists, Ethan Christensen also had a four-point game, as did Brandon Watson with one goal and three assists.

“We’re getting a lot of goals from a lot of people,” Cantabene said. “It’s not one guy carrying us. We’re getting a lot of people a lot of shots. It’s not just one guy and that’s a tribute to these guys offensively.”

It’s also a display of how deep and dangerous the Mustangs are.

Stevenson has never been a team to shy away from any shot them have. Against the Battling Bishops, the Mustangs shot the ball 59 times. It was a remarkable assault on the Ohio Wesleyan goal that in the second half just became too much.

The Mustangs took a 4-2 lead in the first quarter with D’Onofrio having a hand in all four goals. He completed his hat trick just a few seconds more than 12 minutes into the game. He also assisted Thelen on a man-up goal in the quarter.

Also in that first quarter, the Mustangs killed two man-up situations for the Battling Bishops, a huge tone-setter early on.

Ohio Wesleyan was able to make proper adjustments in the game, but after Thelen gave Stevenson a 5-2 lead with 7:17 remaining in the second quarter with his second goal of the game.

Soon after that goal, Ohio Wesleyan scored two goals just 37 seconds apart to make it a one-goal game. The super-quick run of scoring continues with Parrish Young doubling the Mustangs lead 10 seconds later. Ohio Wesleyan then scored again on a 3-1 run to cut it back to one. The total run of those four goals lasted exactly one minute.

But after just over two minutes, it was another ridiculously quick run of scores. Karsian scored two goals just 30 seconds apart to put Stevenson ahead 8-5. In about a minute’s time, Ohio Wesleyan responded with two goals of their own to get back within on score. But Stevenson again always had a response. Christensen scored his first goal of the game with just 44 seconds remaining in the first half to push Stevenson back ahead by two goals at 9-7.

“I think Lacrosse is the fastest sport on two feet and once you get the ball up, you run your tail off and the middies did a good job of clearing the ball and finding open guys and getting good shots,” Thelen said.

Ohio Wesleyan scored two of the first three goals of the second half, including a man-up goal by Max Tennant at 12:19, but after that was when Stevenson started to separate themselves a bit.

Thelen, Christensen and Tyler Hurhman each scored for Stevenson in a two and a half minute span. Stevenson led 13-9 after Fuhrman’s man-up goal. But the Battling Bishops lived up to their name and continues to fight back.

Stevenson’s four-goal lead was dropped down to one goal after a three-score run by Ohio Wesleyan into the fourth quarter. Luke Leyden had two of those goals for the visitors, including a man-up goal with 9:07 remaining. The Mustangs just wouldn’t let them carry their momentum to even a tie. The Stevenson defense, aided by strong possessions from their offense, clamped down and finally pulled away with a three-goal run to end the game.

“They made a few runs at us but we were able to keep them at bay,” Cantabene said. “They (Ohio Wesleyan) are a scrappy team … I didn’t think we played our best defensively, but I thought we made the played we needed to make. I thought we did what we had to do.”

Dinan finished the game very strong with four saves in the fourth quarter. He also tied for the team lead with four ground balls in the game.

“He’s been getting better and better and has been getting more saves each game. He’s more confident,” Cantabene said. “The best part about him, he’s a great leader and wants to be in the cage. He’s just so tough, you see him running out of the goal and getting ground balls. We haven’t had a goalie like that in years.”

Stevenson showed great improvement in ground balls in the game, out scooping the Battling Bishops 40-30 in the game after struggling in that area in their first two games. Stevenson also won 18 of 31 faceoff attempts and out-shot their opponents 59-41. Though the defense struggled in close defense at times, Stevenson’s transition defense forced six failed clears on Ohio Wesleyan’s 17 attempts.

Ohio Wesleyan was Stevenson’s third-straight ranked opponent to start the year and second-straight victory. Stevenson will go back on the road against and even tougher opponent on Tuesday when they make a trip to the Eastern Shore to take on No. 1 Salisbury at 7 pm, weather permitting.

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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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