In what will be his first game in almost two years, Stephen Banick is slated to start in reigning Division III national champion Stevenson’s season opener against York on Saturday. The sophomore attackman will play with no limitations on his role and playing time.
Banick has not played since breaking his left leg in a loss to Salisbury in the NCAA semifinals on May 20, 2012. He sat out last season after suffering an undisclosed injury in the preseason. But he has played fully in the fall and preseason, and coach Paul Cantabene said that he has no questions about the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Banick’s durability.
“He goes against a great defense every day,” Cantabene said Friday morning. “So he’s used to competing against those guys and with guys like [senior 6-3, 230-pound defenseman] Kyle Holechek and [junior 6-5, 248-pound defenseman] Callum Robinson beating him up every single day, I think he understands what it’s going to take to the play in the game. So we’re not worried at all about him stepping right in and playing well.”
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Banick will take his customary spot on attack with senior Chris Dashiell, and the third spot will be occupied by freshman Edward McLoughlin, Cantabene announced. Sophomores Ryan Kirby and Matt Stango could also get some minutes, but McLoughlin has proven himself in the preseason.
“Eddie’s a real calm player, and he sees the ball really well,” Cantabene said. “He has good eyes and rides. He does all of the little things. He’s a pretty good dodger as well. So we like his all-around ability. With Chris and Stephen, we know what kind of players they are, and those two players are really calming influences. He plays hard and he makes plays and puts people in position to make plays.”
The Mustangs, who are ranked No. 1 in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association’s preseason poll, will open their NCAA title defense by clashing with York. Both teams were members of the Capital Athletic Conference from 2007 to 2012 before Stevenson moved to the Middle Atlantic Conference for the 2013 campaign.
The Mustangs won all six meetings with York, but escaped with a 7-5 decision in 2012, which was the Spartans’ first season under current coach Brandon Childs. Last year, York went 13-4 before falling to St. Mary’s in the semifinals of the CAC tournament.
“We have an idea of what they’re about, and I think they kind of have an idea of what we’re about,” Cantabene said of the Spartans, who return junior attackman and CAC Player of the Year Tyler Hutson. “It’ll be good. I think a lot of the guys know each other. So there will be some familiarity there, but every year’s different, and we’ve got to find out who they have and they’ve got to find out who we have. We’ll see who adjusts first.”