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Paul Cantabene says Stevenson men's lacrosse has better attitude in 2016

Paul Cantabene says Stevenson men's lacrosse has better attitude in 2016

Stevenson returned six of 10 starters from last spring's team that went 16-5 overall and captured the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth regular-season and tournament crowns for the third consecutive year.

The Mustangs – who are ranked No. 7 in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's preseason poll – also came back with a change in attitude, according to coach Paul Cantabene.

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"I think we're pretty egoless," he said. "There's not anybody out there that thinks, 'I'm better than everybody else.' It's been a very good go so far. There's very few egos on here. We've had some big egos on our teams in the past, and that's kind of been a problem at times, and at times, it hasn't. But I think these guys have done a really good job of checking them at the door and just taking one practice at a time."

All five of last season's losses occurred against ranked opponents, and the defense surrendered an average of 13.6 goals in those setbacks. But Cantabene also blamed himself for not giving more on-field time to reserves and younger players.

"I've said that I probably should have played some younger guys, but I played the guys that got us there," he said. "Those guys won the national title, and they went 19-3 the year before [in 2014]. So I was loyal to our guys that got us where we went, and I didn't make the necessary changes. That's on me. But we still had a great opportunity to go to the Final Four. These guys are just a little more hungry. They're pushing the envelope, they practice extremely hard. For a coach, that makes you excited to come to practice, knowing that you're going to get that competition from your guys every day."

The 2015 campaign ended on a low note with a 12-4 rout at home to in-state rival Salisbury in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Sea Gulls' bus to Mustang Stadium was delayed three hours by a truck accident on the Bay Bridge, and Stevenson became even more unglued by a 19-minute power outage in the second half.

Cantabene said the memory of that day still bothers the team.

"Nobody likes how last year ended because we didn't handle that situation very well," he said. "With the delay and the lights going out and everything, I thought we handled those situations pretty poorly, and I thought Salisbury handled them very well. I thought they had that mentality and did a great job handling it. We didn't handle it very well, and I think our team knows that. We don't want to have that same attitude. I think we're a tougher team mentally to handle those situations, to handle some adversity when it comes."

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