Stevenson opened Commonwealth Conference play with a 12-8 victory over Albright on Saturday – and dropped in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.
The reigning national champion Mustangs (3-1) fell from No. 3 to No. 5. They were leapfrogged by Salisbury (6-0) – which moved from No. 5 to No. 3 after disposing of Ohio Wesleyan, 13-7, on Sunday – and Tufts (2-0) – which remained at No. 4 after edging Keene State, 17-16, on Saturday.
The drop in the poll was bewildering to Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene.
“That was kind of weird,” he said Tuesday. “In the end, we really don’t care, but I guess people are just looking at scores. That [Albright] game was probably closer than they wanted, and that’s fine. It’s no big deal to us. Tufts moved up because they beat Keene, but they beat Keene, 17-16, and Keene lost to [Bowdoin] in the game before and only scored [seven] goals. It is what it is. For us, we’re all about getting ready for the NCAA tournament and getting ready for conference play and trying to be the best team we can be.”
If margin of victory is a factor in the minds of coaches and pollsters, is that something Cantabene considers during games?
“For us, it never does,” he said. “We just want to win the game. That’s what we say as coaches all the time. We’ve just got to do enough to win the game. For us, we have to understand what it is to be the defending national champions. I think sometimes we’re not handling it as well. We have to understand that we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. It doesn’t matter if it’s their first game of the year or their last game of the year. They’re doing everything they can to beat us. If they beat us, it helps their recruiting because they can say they beat the defending national champs. That’s a great resume builder for those teams, and we’ve got to understand and handle it a little bit better than we have.”
Cantabene knows the Mustangs have time to make a move in the poll. They host Tufts on Tuesday and No. 2 SUNY-Cortland on March 22, travel to No. 12 Lynchburg on March 29 and meet No. 3 Salisbury on April 19.
“Our best games are ahead of us,” he said. “We know that if we play well in the next two weeks with Roanoke coming up on Saturday and Tufts on Tuesday and Nazareth on Friday and Cortland on Saturday and Lynchburg, if we win all those games, everything will take care of itself. We just want to play well and do what we have to do.”