I have been able to witness the Stevenson Lacrosse program grow since 2009. During that span I seen some great individual talents and also the 2013 Championship team. One thing that always was apart of the program was toughness and attitude. Players like Steven Kazimer, Austin Hale, and Parker Bratton, all added that flavor that usually gave the Mustangs an edge over their opponents. For the first time since 2007, Stevenson is 0-3 so far this season against ranked opponents, #2 RIT, #1 Tufts, and now, #10 Cabrini.
After being embarrassed by Tufts on Wednesday, a victory was definitely needed for the Mustangs, also for the morale of the program. Usually Cabrini would be a for sure win for the Stangs, instead the Cavaliers walk out of Mustang Stadium with a convincing 8-6 victory.
Josh Rufolo made a great play to began the game, with a great wrap around check, knocking Tyler Johnston stick out of his hands. I thought that play would set the tone for Stevenson but that would be the only big play by the Stangs in an opening quarter dominated by Cabrini. Johnston would assist Mike Leyden on the first goal, giving the Cavs an early 1-0 halfway through the quarter. Johnston made a sweet dime in between two players to hit Leyden who was open 10 yards out from the goal. Cabrini would create a 3-0 lead in the first, Leyden with 2 of them.
Turnovers were the Stangs worse enemy tonight, committing a total of 32 turnovers (Four players with 3+). Cabrini played solid defense, not giving the offensive players for Stevenson much space to operate, but many of the Stangs turnovers were thrown away passes and dropped balls. In the first 25 minutes of the game Stevenson committed 11 turnovers to Cabrini's 4, also trailing 6-0.
All three of Cabrini's attackmen, Mike Leyden, Ethan Heisman, and Damian Sobieski finished with 2 goals, while midfielder Tyler Johnston led the game with 3 assist.
Surprisingly enough, Cabrini found ways to get open shooters near the crease even though the Mustangs were playing in a man defense. Ball watching has been an issue for them so far this season and it was an issue for them tonight. Goalie, Ben Richards, also hasn't played at championship level, allowing 44 goals against 3 ranked opponents this season.
I'm shocked to see the Mustangs play so sloppy. This is very uncharacteristic loss for a team that rarely loses on it's home field. Stevenson has became a powerhouse program in Division 3 but today the average program in Cabrini looked like the better team. Leading goal scorer for Stevenson Colin Dabney, only took 3 shots today, while none of the starting attack and midfield scored a goal, and combined for 1 dime. Kyle D'Onofrio led the team with 2 goals.
Only 1 assist today by the Stangs is very disappointing, and even though they passed the ball more, it still wasn't much movement without the ball. I didn't see much cutting, no flashes to crease, and a lot bad passes to the middle that should have been shot attempts. Even on the clears, they weren't crisp or clean. Too many times in the game the longpoles were bringing the ball up the field while two Cabrini short poles were raping them for the ball. With the caliber of players this team has, it should only take 3 passes to get the ball from box-to-box.
I really think this squad has to do some soul searching, not as individuals, but as a team. Lack of chemistry will always be a team full of talent downfall. Talking with alumni of the program, all of them suggest lack of toughness and attitude being the reason for this early struggle. Along with the lack of chemistry and toughness, I also think Coach Cantebeane should go back to the basics in practice, just to get the fundamentals right, such as catching and passing. Michael Jordan was blessed with amazing talent on the basketball court but he also had great fundamentals. God gifted talent isn't anything without the fundamentals and the Mustangs are finding that out the hard way.