Paul Cantabene took the unusual step of prohibiting players from the Stevenson men's lacrosse team from conducting interviews after Tuesday night's 7-6 home loss to Tufts.

Instead, the coach did all the talking, choosing not to mince words about the Mustangs' lackluster effort in their first loss in seven games this season.

"I didn't think we played well," Cantabene said of the offense. "A lot of bad passes, a lot of bad drops. I think we're better than that, and for some reason, our attention to detail wasn't really good, and I thought we shot to some poor places and made their goalie look good. But he also made a lot of great saves. I think their goalie played well, our goalie played well. It's a tough game. Could've gone either way. I'm just a little disappointed in our effort overall, and I thought we let our defense down because our defense was fabulous tonight."

Stevenson, ranked No. 2 in the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Division III poll, took 40 shots but placed just 22 on cage with Jumbos junior Patton Watkins making 16 saves. Stevenson's man-up offense failed to take advantage of three extra-man opportunities.

No. 9 Tufts committed 29 turnovers to the Mustangs' 24, but that did little to drain Cantabene's displeasure.

"Their defense is good, but they don't have a lot of checkers or a lot of guys that go out and press you," he said. "I just thought we made some real poor decisions. I thought we didn't do a great job at all of catching the ball and making tough plays, and that's what we have to do. We didn't make any tough plays. We took the easy way out a lot."

Senior midfielder Nick Rossi led Stevenson — which is now 2-5 in one-goal outcomes over the last four seasons — with three points (all assists), but he also turned the ball over three times. The starting midfield of Rossi, senior Peter Green and sophomore Michael Crowe combined for nine turnovers.

Freshman goalkeeper Dimitri Pecunes finished with 12 saves, but his effort did not get much support.

"He's really coming into his own, coming into a big game and doing a good job and playing in some big situations when the lights are the brightest," Cantabene said. "I thought he did a good job, and hopefully, he's going to get better. That's a game that you sometimes need as a goalie to get a little more confidence and he did."

The Jumbos improved to 2-2 and are 2-0 after the return of 27 players from a two-game suspension for making sexist and racist comments during a women's volleyball game.

After a scoreless third quarter that left it tied at 4-4, Tufts took a one-goal advantage when junior midfielder Beau Wood found senior attackman Andrew Fiamengo at the right wing, and he fired a shot between Pecunes' legs with 7:42 left in the fourth period.

Stevenson needed just 90 seconds to knot the score. Rossi passed the ball to sophomore attackman Mark Pannenton (two goals) and, from the left wing, he skipped a shot inside the right post.

But then Tufts scored the next two goals. Junior midfielder Peter Bowers dodged from the top of the box by moving right and then turning left before hitting the top right corner of the net with five minutes remaining.

Twenty-one seconds later, sophomore attackman Cole Bailey found sophomore attackman Chris Schoenhut running down the right alley to give Tufts a 7-5 advantage.

The Mustangs cut the deficit in half on a pretty give-and-go between Green and junior attackman Glen Tompkins. Standing inside the top of the box, Green passed the ball to Tompkins on the right wing and cut towards the cage. Tompkins centered the ball to Green for the easy goal in front with 1:31 left.

On the ensuing faceoff, Tufts senior faceoff specialist Brian Ruggiero (11-of-17) picked up the ground ball. Wood turned the ball over with 23.1 seconds remaining, but Stevenson's hopes ended when Green tried to split a double team at the midline and lost the ball, and the Jumbos ran out the rest of the clock.

Wood led Tufts with two goals and one assist, and Fiamengo scored twice.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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