When reigning Division III national champion Stevenson faces Commonwealth Conference rival Widener at Mustang Stadium on Wednesday, neither team will have to go out of their way to get familiar.
The Mustangs swept the Pride in two games last season, but Stevenson needed a goal from then-junior attackman Chris Dashiell with nine seconds remaining in regulation to emerge with a 9-8 victory over Widener in last year’s league tournament final May 4. Mustangs coach Paul Cantabene said the memory of that tight matchup has not totally dissipated.
“I don’t think I really need to remind them,” he said Monday night. “We talked about it, but we know what Widener is all about. I think we’ll be ready to play. They kind of set the tone with us last year, just like we did to them. So they’ll get our full effort, that’s for sure.”
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Both teams share identical 5-0 conference records, and although Stevenson -- which rose to No. 2 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll -- is on an 11-game winning streak, the Pride have won four straight and six of their last seven.
And Wednesday’s showdown is doubly significant in terms of seeding for the Commonwealth Conference and NCAA tournaments as the Mustangs are battling No. 3 Salisbury (14-1) and No. 4 Denison (13-0) for the top seed in the South Region.
“It’s really important to win that game because then you get the home-field advantage throughout the [conference tournament],” Cantabene said. “So that’s a big game there. And we like playing at home. We don’t want to go on the road. Obviously, there’s a lot of stakes because both teams want to play at home. So we know the importance of the game.
"It’s also an important game nationally for the NCAA tournament because if we lose to Widener, we put ourselves in a little bit of a tougher position. We know it’s a very important game, and I think our guys are ready for the challenge.”