The end of the Mustangs’ historic 2009 campaign – which included a program-record 17 wins, the school’s first-ever No. 1 ranking in any sport and the institution’s first appearance in a NCAA tournament semifinal – leads one to wonder: what’s in store for 2010?
Assuming that none of the current seniors on the roster have fifth years of eligibility remaining, Stevenson will bid farewell to its first midfield line of Nicola Bevacqua (31 goals and eight assists), Greg Furshman (23, 5) and Chris Baldwin (18, 10). The Mustangs will also graduate top close defenseman Mike Simon and long-stick midfielder Austin Hale.
But the cupboard is actually fuller than one might think. The team’s top-three scorers are underclassmen, and junior Steve Kazimer (33, 36), sophomore Jimmy Dailey (29, 37) and junior Richie Ford (42, 13) make up the starting attack.
Sophomores Evan Douglass and Ian Hart make up two-thirds of the close defenseman that will patrol the area in front of junior goalkeeper Geoff Hebert (7.04 goals-against average and .594 save percentage). Sophomore faceoff specialists Ray Witte (.542 percentage) and Joe Valderas (.589) will likely fill the void created by the departure of Furshman (.637).
Coach Paul Cantabene refused to let the 12-7 loss to No. 5 Gettysburg shape his team’s legacy.
"This team is a success," he insisted in his post-game comments after Sunday’s contest. "We changed a culture here at Stevenson. I told the guys in there that I’m proud of every single one of those guys. Not one guy let me down this season."
Ford said the objective next season is to advance further in the NCAA tournament. "Hopefully, we can just keep working and keep building it higher and get past this game," the Baltimore native and Towson graduate said. "Next year, it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I think everybody’s willing to put in the time this summer to get where we want to be."
*Gettysburg tied a school record set in 2002 with its 14th consecutive victory. Surprisingly, Bullets coach Hank Janczyk credited part of the streak to the 16-6 thumping the team absorbed at the hands of the Mustangs on March 4, which put Gettysburg at 2-3.
"We were trying to do some things that weren’t successful, and we had to make a lot of changes," said Janczyk, who ranks second on the NCAA career coaching wins list with 331. (Salisbury’s Jim Berkman leads with 346 victories.) "The Stevenson game was a big part of that change. They just took it to us in that first game, and I think slowly and surely, our guys got better."
*In the regular-season meeting, Dailey blistered the Bullets for seven points on four goals and three assists. On Sunday, he was shut out for only the second time this season as he was shadowed by senior defenseman Yanni Peary.
"I knew exactly what he was going to do," said Peary, who held Dailey to one shot. "He wasn’t going to go to the cage. He was going to roll back and forth. … I felt I could match up pretty well against him."
Dailey was complimentary of Peary, saying, "I think he’s a pretty good defenseman."
Cantabene said Dailey was hampered by the dislocated right shoulder that limited him in Stevenson’s 11-9 win against Salisbury in the quarterfinals. "We probably played him when we shouldn’t have," Cantabene said. "He still gave a real gutsy effort."
*Furshman talked about playing against his younger brother Zach, who is the starting goalkeeper for Gettysburg.
"I had some mixed emotions," said Greg Furshman, who put three of his four shots on net but did not record a goal or assist on Sunday. "Part of me wants him not to get lit up too bad. ... He had a good day. I’ll probably be hearing about it at family reunions and stuff for a while."
Said Zach Furshman: "It’s definitely weird playing against your brother. You save a shot [of his], you’re happy about it, but you kind of feel bad about it."
To which Janczyk joked, "He can feel bad later."