Stevenson’s road to the NCAA Tournament is littered with numerous potholes, but nothing may be more difficult than this current stretch of contests.
The No. 9 Mustangs are in the midst of a five-game span that includes meetings with York, No. 3 Cortland, No. 2 Tufts and Mary Washington. They already dropped a 6-3 decision to No. 4 Lynchburg on Saturday.
Those five teams are a combined 16-3 with Cortland, Tufts and Mary Washington carrying unblemished records. But coach Paul Cantabene said he is eager to see how his youthful team handles adversity.
“I think it benefits them because they need to know how hard they have to play every game in order to be good,” Cantabene said Monday. “That’s one thing we’ve been pushing with them. You have to be good every game. You can’t pick and choose your moments. When you want to be good, you play every day. That’s what the good teams do, and that’s how our teams played in the past. Now we’re a little bit younger, and those guys are trying to figure it out. Losing some of the guys has hurt our leadership on the field, but we’ve just got to keep grinding it out.”
Cantabene has preached patience with this current crop of players, allowing them to make mistakes in the hope that they will learn valuable lessons from those experiences. But that doesn’t mean that the bar has been lowered for Stevenson.
“We’re just looking for that ah-ha moment, where we say, ‘OK, this is what it is,’” Cantabene said. “Everywhere we’ve been, there’s been that ah-ha moment. There’s always that moment where they just figure it out, and right now, these guys are just trying to figure it out.”