Stevenson outscored Widener and Albright by a combined 30-8 en route to capturing its fifth consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth tournament crown, and one of the players instrumental in the team's success was Ross Dinan.
The senior goalkeeper surrendered only seven goals and made 19 saves in those two games, earning the tournament's Most Valuable Player award. Coach Paul Cantabene noted that Dinan has a 5.69 goals-against average and a .579 save percentage in his past four starts for the Mustangs (13-5).
"I think from his worst outing against Cabrini, he's really changed dramatically," Cantabene said Monday. "He's played great in our last four games and has been really good. I think his attitude has changed totally. He's a senior that wants to keep practicing and wants to get out here every single day. How he's played in the last four games has been terrific."
In that 15-9 loss at Cabrini on April 21, Dinan allowed nine goals and made only three saves before getting pulled for freshman T.J. Ellis with 7:08 left in the third quarter. After that game, Cantabene said the coaches worked with Dinan to fix a few problems they noticed.
"We've tried to get him into a quicker warmup and a more intense warmup," Cantabene said. "With goalies, a lot of times you just want to get them going and get them ready. So we've gone to a more intense warmup with him and have tried to get him to play a little more back in the goal and everything. I just think sometimes he got a little too far. He just wasn't aware of his position, and now I think we've really corrected that. … Those things have helped him tremendously."
The popular saying in lacrosse is that successful teams are strong up the middle of the field at faceoffs and in the net. If Dinan and freshman faceoff specialist Justin Burnette (64.5 percent) can continue their solid performances, Stevenson hopes to advance deep into the NCAA Division III tournament, which begins Wednesday against Nazareth (11-8) at Mustang Stadium in Owings Mills at 7 p.m.
"If we can be strong up in the middle with goaltending and faceoffs like I think we are now, we can beat anybody," Cantabene said. "So we're happy with the direction that Ross is going in, and we're excited with how he's turned it around with making all the saves we've needed and a few that he shouldn't. He's really helping us, and it's a lot easier to play defense."