Paul Cantebene had an inkling of what was ahead for the Stevenson offense.
After graduating Division III’s Player of the Year in attackman Jimmy Dailey, two more starting attackmen in Neal Barthelme and Richie Ford and two starting midfielders in Kyle Moffitt and Sean Calabrese, the unit was bound to get off to a slower start in 2012.
And that has indeed happened as the Mustangs have scored 26 goals through their first three contests. By comparison, they scored 49 goals in their first three games of last year.
But Stevenson, which was ranked fifth in last week’s United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, is 3-0, and Cantabene sounded unfazed about the offense’s production.
“[O]ffensively, we’re just getting all those young bucks on the same page,” he said Sunday. “Losing those six All Americans on one side of the field really hurt, but I think we’re doing a good job with those guys, keeping them going. And I have a good feeling about this team. They’re really working hard and they rise to the challenge each week as we play better teams each week. That’s what it’s all about. We’re working hard, and it’s going to be a little bit more of a grind this year than it has been in past years, but that’s because we play such a tough schedule and we’ve got a lot of young kids.”
The team outlasted Western New England, 6-4, on Saturday, but the six goals were the program’s fewest since April 19, 2009 when the Mustangs lost to Salisbury, 13-5, in the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament final. It’s the fewest number of goals the team has notched in a victory since April 16, 2003 when the school was formerly known as Villa Julie and beat Neumann, 6-3.
Cantebene pointed out that Stevenson runs a motion offense that requires every player to read opposing defenses and then attack any perceived vulnerabilities. Developing that recognition can take time, he said.
“Sometimes it takes a while for the kids to understand that and where to go with it,” he said. “Last year, we had a very experienced team that knew where to go and where to be, and that made it a lot easier to coach. This year, there’s a lot more coaching and a lot more hands-on training to help the guys understand where they have to be and why we do things this way and how to wear teams down during the course of the game. I think we’re starting to get there, but it’s a little more of a challenge, that’s all.”