If the Stevenson men's lacrosse team was looking for a signature win of the 2014 season, it got one Tuesday night.
In a matchup of programs that have captured NCAA championships, the No. 5 Mustangs never trailed in a 15-9 win against No. 3 Tufts before an announced 351 at Mustang Stadium.
Stevenson (6-1), the reigning Division III national champion, had lost to then-No. 2 Rochester Institute of Technology in a rematch of last year's NCAA title game and beaten then-No. 11 Western New England, but Tuesday night's victory was the kind of result that can alter the course of a season.
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"I think this was a huge win for us," said junior midfielder Tony Rossi (Calvert Hall), a Towson native. "Coming into this week, we were motivated. People were kind of talking about us and saying we were down right now. But I think we really came together as a team tonight against a quality opponent, and I think we were hitting on all cylinders."
Two Mustangs posted six points each. Sophomore attackman Stephen Banick recorded five goals and one assist, and Rossi had three goals and three assists.
Junior midfielder Colin Dabney added a career-high five goals on nine shots, and senior midfielder Glen Tompkins registered a game-best five assists against a Jumbos defense that had allowed an average of just 10.5 goals.
"We're all playing our hardest, and everyone is contributing, which is why I think we won tonight," Banick said. "It's a team effort, and in the past games, we've kind of been individuals, and when we start working together and moving the ball and cutting to the ball and we're scoring, that's how we won tonight."
Junior attackman Cole Bailey (Severn), a Millersville native, led Tufts (4-1) with five points on one goal and four assists, and senior attackman Beau Wood (Severn), a Sherwood Forest native, chipped in two goals and two assists.
But sophomore goalkeeper Dimitri Pecunes made 16 saves to help hold the Jumbos to 12 goals below their season average.
Stevenson scored the game's first three goals. Tompkins fed Rossi on the right wing just 1 minute, 42 seconds into the first quarter.
Banick then skipped a pass to Dabney standing alone at the left point with 9:13 remaining. Then senior attackman Chris Dashiell dodged from the right wing and beat senior goalie Patton Watkins with 7:18 left in the period.
The Jumbos narrowed the deficit to one in the first quarter and in the second, but could not tie the score.
The Mustangs expanded their 8-5 lead at halftime by scoring five of the third quarter's seven goals.
"I think it's pretty significant considering that coming into the game, everyone thought that they were world-beaters and that no one could keep them down from scoring," coach Paul Cantabene said. "But we have a lot of confidence in our guys to play well tonight. We have a good defense, we have good offensive guys. It was significant in that we lost that RIT game that we probably should have won and it was good to see us bounce back against a top five team and play well. That was the best thing for us, just having that consistency against some of the best teams in the country and being ready to play."