Review & preview: Stevenson

A look at the 2013 season for the Mustangs and a glimpse into 2014

June 24, 2013|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Here is the eighth and final installment of a series that checks in with the eight Division III programs in the state to give a glimpse into the past and the future. Teams are scheduled to appear according to the chronological order in which their seasons ended. Friday’s visit was with Salisbury. Monday’s visit is with Stevenson.

REVIEW

The good: When it comes to memorable moments, it is difficult to top your university’s first national championship in any sport. That is what the Mustangs brought home after outlasting Rochester Institute of Technology, 16-14, in the NCAA tournament final in Philadelphia on May 26. This year’s squad was not coach Paul Cantabene’s most talented or most skilled group, but it was his most cohesive unit. “I think this team was just more of a team,” he said. “They got along better. There were no cliques, no selfishness. It didn’t matter who scored the goal or anything like that. I think it was just more about the team. They really got along – from the seniors all the way down to the freshmen. Everybody got along and this team was the most selfless that we’ve ever had. Nobody really cared who made the big plays or how they happened. They sacrificed for everybody. I really thought that was a huge thing in how we came together this year. They worked for each other, were always there for each other. If somebody didn’t make a good play, it didn’t matter. It was one of the more positive teams that we’ve ever had. Nobody was pointing fingers. They were just really what you wanted as the definition of a team.”

… While making its historic run, the team set a single-season record for wins (22) while absorbing just two losses. Stevenson, which ended the campaign on an 11-game winning streak, had not lost since April 9 when Roanoke emerged with a 14-13 decision in overtime. It was a bitter pill to swallow because the Mustangs had overcome a two-goal deficit in the fourth quarter with three straight tallies, but could not protect a one-goal lead in the final three minutes of regulation. But Cantabene pointed to that loss as the team’s turning point. “We lost that game, and it was a game that we thought we should have won,” he said. “We didn’t play well and although we had the lead late, we gave it away. I really think that was the breaking point for our team because it told us that we had to really change things like how we played and what we were doing and how we were preparing to play each game. From that point, I really thought that our focus was a lot better, our team understood what we were trying to do, and they didn’t really take anything for granted.”

… A number of players had standout performances this past spring. Junior attackman Chris Dashiell paced the offense in scoring (86 points on 33 goals and 53 assists), senior midfielder Peter Green scored 39 goals after registering five as a short-stick defensive midfielder in 2012, freshman goalkeeper Dimitri Pecunes posted a 7.62 goals-against average and a .571 save percentage, and junior faceoff specialist Brent Hiken won 70.9 percent (202-of-285) of his draws and scooped up 133 ground balls. But Cantabene was pleased to see several non-starters contribute to the team’s success. Players like fourth attackman Pat Candon (22 G, 28 A), second-line midfielder Billy Burgoyne (34 G, 6 A), sophomore faceoff specialist Sam Wyatt (66.5 percent on 177-of-266 and 111 GB) and freshman long-stick midfielder Chad Williams (25 GB, 18 CT) fueled the run to the NCAA title. “I think everybody picked and chose times to chip in when other guys weren’t playing their best,” Cantabene said.

The bad: Winning the national championship would seem to give a team a “get out of jail free” card, but that is not the approach that Cantabene is taking. The defense surrendered just 7.1 goals per game, but Cantabene was slightly distressed to see the unit permit Washington College to score 13 goals in a NCAA tournament second-round meeting and the Tigers to land 14 tallies in the championship final. “I still think we need to play a little better defense,” he said. “Giving up 14 goals in a championship game is not what we want to do, and I think we gave up some higher numbers this year than we wanted to.”

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