#1 Stevenson Escapes with Overtime Win Over Spartans

#1 Stevenson Escapes with Overtime Win Over Spartans

OWING MILLS, MD – The York College men's lacrosse team gave the defending Division III National Champion Stevenson University Mustangs all they could handle before Stevenson escaped the 2014 season opener with a 9-8 overtime win on Saturday.

The Mustangs, who won 22 games last season en route to their first national championship, improves to 1-0. The Spartans, who notched a school-record 13 victories last year, falls to 0-1.

The Spartans wasted little time in getting on the board as junior Tyler Davis (Finksburg, Md./Westminster) found the back of the net just 43 seconds into the season off a feed from senior captain Seth Krolus (Westminster, Md./Loyola Blakefield). The Mustangs answered Davis' opening goal with three straight tallies. Joe Balestrieri scored at the 10:31 mark and again with 38 seconds left in the first period. Balestrieri's goals sandwiched a Stephen Banick tally as the Mustangs took a 3-1 lead to the second quarter.

The Mustangs scored the only second period goal when Chris Dashiell found the back of the net at the 12:35 mark.

Stevenson had a significant advantage in shots in the opening half as they outshot York 32-12 including 18-7 in shots on goal.

The gritty Spartans were undeterred as they came out of the break and really took the play to the top ranked team in the country. York opened the third quarter with a goal from All-American Tyler Hutson (Westminster, Md./Winters Mill) as he scored off a feed from sophomore Andrew Gamble (Easton, Md./Easton) just 2:42 into the second half. Hutson struck again just under a minute later as he scored off an assist from Davis, drawing York to within one at 4-3. Junior Chris Varela (Easton, Pa./Easton) tied the game on a man-up goal off a Dakota Randall (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa) feed at the 9:57 mark.

Balestrieri halted the Spartan run with an unassisted tally 1:21 after Varela's man-up goal. York tied the game for a third time when senior captain James Lowe (Monrovia, Md./Urbana) scored York's second man-up goal as Randall found Lowe for the goal. Gamble then closed out the explosive period for the Spartans with another man-up goal, scoring off a feed from Krolus as York took a 6-5 lead to the fourth quarter.

Banick opened the final period of regulation with an unassisted man-up goal, 2:37 into the fourth. Varela gave the lead back to York with a fourth man-up goal as Randall dished out his third assist of the game at the 9:41 mark. The Green and White pushed the lead to 8-6 with a second Lowe goal with 6:21 left in regulation.

The Mustangs drew to within one on a fourth Balestrieri goal with 5:38 remaining.

Stevenson won the ensuing face off and peppered Spartan goalie Caleb Abney (Forest Hill, Md./Fallston) with six shots over the next four and a half minutes before the Mustangs got a huge break with a questionable cross check penalty with just 32 seconds left in regulation. Stevenson would not let that chance go by the wayside as they staved off the upset with a Glen Tompkins goal ten seconds later, tying the game at eight. The Spartans got a shot on goal from Davis with six seconds left but Mustang goalie Dimitri Pecunes recorded the save to force the extra session.

The Mustangs would win the face off to start overtime and call timeout. The Mustangs would work the ball around and Edward McLoughlin would find Tomkins for the game-winner with 3:21 left in the overtime.

Balestrieri led the Mustangs with four goals while Tompkins and Banick each notched a pair of tallies. Brent Hiken captured a game-high 11 ground balls for the Mustangs as he won 17-of-20 at the face off X.

Hutson, Lowe, and Varela paced the balanced Spartan offense with two goals each. Randall had a game-high three assists while Krolus added two helpers of his own. Sophomore defender Josh Kluver (Abington, Pa./Abington) led the Spartans with a team-high five ground balls.

Pecunes earned the win as he registered 11 saves with eight goals allowed in his 60:39 of work. Abney suffered the hard-luck loss as the sophomore recorded a career-high 22 saves as he allowed the nine goals in his 60:39 of action.

The Mustangs finished the game holding a 58-26 margin in shots and 31-19 in shots on goal. Stevenson had a big 18-3 advantage at the X while they also had a 40-21 margin in ground balls.

York took advantage of the Mustangs' undisciplined play as they went 4-of-7 on their extra-man opportunities. Stevenson went 2-for-5. Stevenson was penalized 10 times for 8:30.

Spartan head coach Brandon Childs was impressed with the play of his squad.

"I thought we played really hard tonight," said Childs. "We were the more disciplined and tougher team tonight. I am proud of how hard we competed and how we carried ourselves." 

Turnovers were even in the game as York committed 15 while the Mustangs had 17 miscues.

The Spartans return to action a week from today when they travel to Muhlenberg to face the Mules in a non-conference contest. Game time is set for 1:00 pm in Allentown, PA.

Caleb Abney photo courtesy of David Sinclair