No. 1 Tufts edges No. 2 Stevenson, 14-13

March 24, 2011|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

In retrospect, the Stevenson men's lacrosse team might have wished that the lightning never let up.

After a lightning delay that lasted 1 hour, 45 minutes, the Mustangs finally took the field at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, but it was Tufts that rained on the hosts' parade, walking away with a 14-13 victory Wednesday night.

In a showdown between the top two teams in Division III, the top-ranked Jumbos not only tagged Stevenson with its first loss of the season, but also re-asserted their standing as reigning NCAA champions.

After taking an 8-6 lead into halftime, Tufts (4-0) opened the third quarter with two goals in a span of 59 seconds to widen the gap to four. The No. 2 Mustangs (8-1) responded with goals from sophomore attackman Tyler Reid and senior midfielder Sean Calabrese to trim the lead in half, but every time they chipped away at the deficit, the Jumbos answered with a corresponding goal.

"We made some mental mistakes," Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene said. "And when you play the stretch of games that we do, those five games over 2½ weeks, nobody else is doing that. Nobody else is doing that nine games into their season. I thought we just became a little tired at times, especially on the defensive end. So it's a tough game, and we're going to continue to get better."

After junior attackman Sean Kirwan's goal on a 6-on-4 man-up situation gave Tufts a 13-10 advantage with 12:47 left in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs got a pair of Jimmy Dailey-to-Neal Barthelme scores to trail by just one with 8:34 remaining.

But senior midfielder Matt Witko converted a feed from junior midfielder Kevin McCormick to double the lead with 4:32 left, and although Reid shaved the gap in half again with 2:34 remaining, another Barthelme shot rang off the left post, and the Mustangs could not get the equalizer before the clock ran out.

A Stevenson defense that had surrendered an average of 5.8 goals per game heading into Wednesday's contest was suddenly vulnerable to Tufts' opportunistic midfielders. The unit was especially porous on the interior where the Jumbos scored at least seven times from in front of junior goalkeeper Ian Bolland.

Barthelme paced the Mustangs with a team-high four goals, but the offense appeared to miss the presence of senior attackman Richie Ford. Ford, who ranked third on the team in both goals (15) and points (22) prior to the game, left in the second quarter after scoring a goal in the opening period and did not return.

Senior attackman Jimmy Dailey's goal with 11:03 left in the first quarter helped him pass Eric Schmith as the program's all-time points leader. Dailey, who finished with one goal and three assists, now has 263 points on 133 goals and 130 assists.

Tufts was led by senior attackman D.J. Hessler, a Monkton native and St. Paul's graduate who registered a game-high six points on three goals and three assists.

Kirwan added four goals and McCormick contributed three goals and one assist.

The Jumbos also got a scintillating performance from junior goalkeeper Steven Foglietta, who turned away 24 Stevenson shots, including 13 in the second half.

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