Washington College ensured that 2013 NCAA Division III men's lacrosse champion Stevenson will not get the chance to repeat.
Washington College defeated Stevenson, 12-11, in an NCAA tournament quarterfinal at Mustang Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Shoremen (18-1), the Centennial Conference regular-season and tournament champion, collected their 13th consecutive win and earned the right to face Salisbury in a national semifinal Sunday at Sea Gull Stadium in Salisbury. Salisbury (20-1) defeated previously unbeaten Denison (19-1), 15-5, in another quarterfinal.
Stevenson, the Commonwealth Conference regular-season and tournament titlist, fell to 19-3 and will not get a chance to defend the crown the program won at Lincoln Financial Field last May.
"It's disappointing we didn't make it back," said coach Paul Cantabene, whose team was seeking its fifth final four appearance in the past six years. "I thought we had a great team and thought we could do it. You've got to win some close games. We knew they were going to be excited, we knew they had some good players. But I still think we're probably the better team. They just made more plays."
Washington College advanced to its first final four since 2004, courtesy of a five-goal, one-assist performance by senior attackman Jim Cusick. The Fallston native and Calvert Hall graduate had three goals and one assist in the second quarter and scored the game-winner with 22.5seconds left.
With the Shoremen holding the ball for the final shot, senior midfielder Kodie Englehart passed the ball from up top to Cusick at the left point, and he fired a shot past Mustangs sophomore goalkeeper Dimitri Pecunes (10 saves) into the right side of the net.
"We ran a play to get [senior midfielder] Hunter [Nowicki] open off the pick, and they played it pretty well," said Cusick, who leads the team in goals with 46. "I was just hoping the ball would get around to me and that I could get an open shot. I was going to step in from wherever I was. So as soon as it hit my stick, I knew I was shooting it."
Stevenson senior Brent Hiken won the ensuing faceoff — his 21st in 27 attempts — and Cantabene called a timeout with 18 seconds remaining to set up a play. Sophomore attackman Stephen Banick carried the ball and tried to feed a teammate in the slot, but two defenders prevented the ball from reaching its target, and Washington College grabbed the loose ball and ran out the clock.
Cusick got help from Nowicki, who assisted on two of his goals and finished with one goal and five assists.
"It's huge," said Nowicki, a Baltimore native and Franklin graduate. "We had a good game plan, and we were really confident that we were the better team."
Trailing 3-1 after the opening quarter, Washington College scored six unanswered goals — including three on four extra-man opportunities — and took a 7-3 advantage into halftime.
Senior attackman Chris Dashiell paced Stevenson with a game-high seven points on two goals and five assists. email@example.comCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun