Playoffs have officially began in college lacrosse across all levels. Stevenson started their quest for a 2nd National Title in 2 years with a first round home match-up against Freedom Conference champions, Eastern Eagles. The Eagles are making their 3rd trip to the postseason, last appearance coming in 2014.
Stevenson handled the Eagles with no problem, advancing to the next round and extending their win streak to 10-games with a 12-5 victory. Both teams started out a little sloppy with a few dropped passes, and it seemed like they were trying to get the jitters out. Coming into the game I was curious to how effective the Eagles' high powered offense would be. Grant Ferguson, Eric Waibel, and David Darling all have 40+ goals and 50+ points, Darling leading the team with 83 points, but the stifling defense of the Stangs made them look average at best.
Watching the Eagles trying to penetrate the Stangs defense was like watching Pacquiao trying to hit Mayweather. Similar to the Commonwealth finals, the longpoles of the Stangs guarded the crease like it was Fort Knox. Anytime it look like a lane would open up for a shot, someone would step up, close the lane, and even block the shot. And if they did get pass the longpoles, Connor Skeen would come up with a stellar save. Skeen finished with 12 saves, giving him a record of 9-0 on the season.
Of course in any sport, defense creates offense, and tonight, the Stangs offense used all of those opportunities the defense created. 9 of the Stangs 12 goals came in the first half, Connor Curro contributing 3 points. Curro had his best game of the season scoring a season high 2 goals in the first quarter. Curro was all over the field today, just one of the few supporting cast members that stepped up.
Tony Rossi also had a great day, dropping his second hat trick of the season. A few unlikely players provided some impressive goals like Justin Buonomo, who scored his first goal of the season off the face-off, Morgan Pritchett, who had a top shelf laser, and Colin Dabney, who provided an insurance goal in the second half. This was a solid team performance by the Stangs, one of their better ones this season.
Next for the Stangs is rival Salisbury. This will be the 5th time since 2009 that they will play each other in the postseason, each winning 2 games. The last postseason match-up came in 2013 when the Mustangs defeated Salisbury 12-6 in the Semi-finals before defeating RIT in the championship game. Earlier this season, the Stangs went down to the Eastern shore of Maryland and defeated the Sea Gulls 9-8 in overtime, Pat Candon awarded the unassisted game winning goal. Saturday at 7pm with will be the face-off time for what will be a very entertaining game.