Stevenson has won the last seven meetings in this series and has ended St. Mary’s season in the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament in each of the last two years. The Seahawks are the No. 3 seed after going 10-5 overall and 6-2 in the league, but they are just 3-5 on the road this season. The second-seeded Mustangs (13-3, 7-1) are 9-1 at home. Here are a few factors that could influence the outcome at Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills Wednesday night.
1) St. Mary’s slow start. When these teams met on April 4, Stevenson raced to a 14-5 victory courtesy of a telling first half. St. Mary’s took just seven of 22 shots in the first half and didn’t maintain the ball long enough to make a dent on the scoreboard. Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said the team’s fast start three weeks ago was comforting to witness. “I hope we come out and play with the same kind of intensity,” he said. “We did a great job against them early. We played with a lot of passion and we got up and down the field and really set the tone of the game there early. But St. Mary’s is a very good team, and we’ll get a much better effort out of them. I’m sure their coach is going to make sure that happens. So it’s going to be a great game.”
2) Stevenson’s accuracy. The Mustangs have never been shy about taking shots, averaging more than 41 this spring. The offense took 53 in that win against the Seahawks, but more importantly, put 33 of those attempts on goal. Cantabene said the team’s shooters have been more accurate compared to earlier in the season. “I think we’re shooting the ball better as a team,” he said. “We were struggling a little it earlier in the year. I think we’re shooting the ball much better now. We’re getting a lot more of our shots on cage, shooting to better spots, and guys are really finishing. So I think that’s another big sign that we’re doing a good job lately.”
3) St. Mary’s turnovers. The Seahawks are averaging 20.9 turnovers this year, but committed a season-worst 27 turnovers in that loss to Stevenson. St. Mary’s must do a better job of valuing the ball and preventing the Mustangs from turning those opportunities into transition chances. Cantabene said he’s expecting a different effort from the Seahawks. “I’m sure they weren’t too happy about that,” he said. “We hope they can turn it over that many times again, but I doubt it. Anytime you get that many turnovers, it gets you that many more possessions. I think our defense does a great job of causing turnovers, getting the ball on the ground, and getting it up.”