No. 8 Rochester Institute of Technology and No. 2 Stevenson will meet for the first time since 2010 when the Mustangs romped to a 20-10 demolition. The Tigers went 16-2 last season en route to advancing to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals before losing to 2010 national champion Tufts. But this will be RIT’s first game of the 2013 campaign. Stevenson won its first two games by a combined score of 28-16 and has appeared to find its goalkeeper of the future in freshman Dimitri Pecunes (8.00 goals-against average and .515 save percentage). Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills on Wednesday night.
1) RIT’s readiness. As previously mentioned, the Tigers have yet to play a game this season, and they may have to deal with some rustiness. But Cantabene pointed out that RIT will have two games of film to review, while the Mustangs are dealing with a lot of questions and few answers. “RIT lost a lot of players from a year ago, and we don’t really know who their personnel is going to be,” he said. “They have some guys back on defense, their faceoff guy is back, their goalie is back, but they’ve lost a lot of their attack and a lot of their middies. It’s going to be a little bit different. I think playing with referees in a real game and the new rules are going to help us a little bit, but not knowing what they’re going to have coming in is kind of hurting us a little bit. But they’re a good team and they’ll have good players. They wouldn’t be ranked in the top 10 if they weren’t. So we expect a good effort. But we hope our system and the way we play carries us. We don’t know a lot about the team. So we’re going to have to make a lot of our adjustments in-game early on depending on their personnel and what they’re running and then go from there.”
2) Stevenson’s man-up offense. The Mustangs have scored just twice in 10 extra-man situations, which is just percentage points better than their 3-of-17 clip through the first two games of last season. But unlike last year, Cantabene isn’t as worried about his current man-up offense. “I think we’re doing all right there,” he said. “We’re getting good shots, we’re moving the ball better, and we’re working well. I think we’ve missed some easy shots that should be goals, but I think we’re much better on EMOs this year than we were last year. There was a time last year when I wished I could have turned down some EMOs. But this year, I think we’re a little more dangerous there, and guys are working a little better and moving the ball better.”
3) RIT’s P.J. Hart. Stevenson has fared well thus far at faceoffs. Nazareth senior Drew Simoneau, who won 56.2 percent (162-of-288) last year, won 53.5 percent (15-of-28) against the Mustangs, and Hampden-Sydney senior Brad Mostowy, who finished with a 50 percent (142-of-284) success rate, won just 43.8 percent (7-of-16) last Saturday. The challenge gets tougher against Tigers junior P.J. Hart, who won 61.3 percent (146-of-238) last season, but Cantabene is confident in sophomore Sam Wyatt (16-of-30 for 53.3 percent) and junior Brent Hiken (11-of-17 for 64.7 percent). “We think we’ve got good guys, too,” Cantabene said. “You’ve got to go out there and see how you match up. We might be a good match-up for him. We’ve got some other guys we can rotate in. we know he’s good and can do some good things, but we think our guys are good, too. So we’ve got to see how that’s going to play out in the game. If we have to make adjustments, we will.”