PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Led by goals from six different players, the Stevenson men’s lacrosse team outscored RIT 6-1 in the fourth quarter to overcome a three-goal deficit en route to winning the title game of the 2013 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship with a 16-14 victory Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Mustangs (22-2) finish the season with a school record 22 wins and on a 10-game winning streak. Stevenson is the eighth different school to win the NCAA Division III championship and the third from Maryland, joining Salisbury and Washington College.
“I want to thank everybody from Stevenson University that helped us get here,” said head coach Paul Cantabene. “President Manning, Tim Campbell, Brett Adams and everybody who put everything on for this weekend.”
“It’s an unbelievable community of people and what they do to help us get here and the logistics, it’s just a real special place. I feel like I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world to have the best job in the world so I just can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done.”
Sophomore Mark Pannenton (Niskayuna, N.Y./Niskayuna) was named Most Outstanding Player after scoring five goals against the Tigers, his third, five-goal game of the season. He became just the third player in program history to score 60 goals in a season, joining Jimmy Dailey (2011) and Neal Barthelme (2011).
With 62 goals, Pannenton is second on the Mustangs’ all-time single season list. He scored 13 goals in Stevenson’s five NCAA tournament games and scored at least one goal in each of the team’s 24 games this season.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the game’s first 5:37 and led 6-1 after the first quarter. In 24 games this season, Stevenson outscored its opponents, 131-34.
However, RIT (19-3) responded by outscoring the Mustangs 12-4 over the second and third quarter and took its first lead of the game at 10-9 on a man-up goal by Eddie Kiesa with 9:54 remaining in the third.
The goal, which was during a one-minute, unreleaseable, 6-on-4 man-advantage for the Tigers, was the last of four man-up goals for RIT who were 4-10 on extra-man opportunities in the game. The Tigers entered the game with the best man-up offense in Division III this season.
Stevenson was whistled for 11 pentalties totaling 8:30 and committed six face-off violations which led to three man-up opportunities for the Tigers.
After Kyle Aquin gave RIT a 13-10 lead at the end of the third quarter, the Mustangs outscored the Tigers 6-1 just like they did in the first, netting the first four of the fourth quarter just 57 seconds apart before sophomore Pat Candon (Long Beach, N.Y./Holy Trinity) scored the game-winner with 11:31 left.
“I think that’s one of the things that this team does, they concede the loss,” said Cantabene. “They could have gave up at 13-10. They never concede anything. Alright, you got us, but I’m going to make the next play. We’re going to make the next thing. That’s kind of how we go about it.”
Aquin tied the NCAA Division III championship game record by scoring seven goals on Sunday, equaling the mark set by Salisbury’s Sam Bradman in 2011. In two games against Stevenson this year, he scored 11 of the Tigers’ 25 goals.
Senior Tyler Reid (Clinton, Conn./Xavier) finished with a goal and three assists for the Mustangs and finished his three-year career ranked fifth in school history with 162 points and third with 123 goals. He scored a school record 29 goals in 11 NCAA tournament games.
The Mustangs were outshot for the first time this season, 43-42, and for just the 25th time in nine seasons under Cantabene.
Both teams and lacrosse fans will not have to wait long for the rematch between RIT and Stevenson.
“It’s not going to take us long to see them again because we open the season with them next year,” said Cantabene. “That’ll be pretty interesting.”
Stevenson and RIT are scheduled to write the fourth chapter in what is an increasingly exciting rivalry on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014.
Photo courtesy Stevenson Athletics