Four Nationally-Ranked Teams Highlight First Mustang Mid-Season Classic
OWINGS MILLS, Md. - The defending national champion Stevenson men's lacrosse team will host the first-ever Mustang Mid-Season Classic featuring Cortland, Lynchburg and Nazareth at Mustang Stadium on Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22. All four teams ranked in the top-15 nationally and represent both the North and South regions.
The fourth teams combined for 70 wins and 26 All-Americans a year ago while three of them advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship.
Cortland, the 2009 national champions, finished last season ranked at No. 1 with a 19-1 record while advancing to the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship. The Red Dragons return five All-Americans, including first team midfielder Joe Slavik who finished with 59 points on 33 goals and 26 assists. Cortland also returns second team defender Brian Winterfeldt and third team attackman Cody Consul.
Last season, Lynchburg finished the season ranked at No. 13 with a 14-6 record while advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals before falling to national champion Stevenson, 13-7. The Hornets return third team All-American defenseman Jon Gill who totaled 25 caused turnovers and 37 ground balls.
"This will be a great event for Division III lacrosse," said Lynchburg head coach Steve Koudelka. "To be able to attract some of the best teams in the country to one venue will be exciting for the sport. We are very excited to be a part of this event."
Nazareth finished the 2013 season with a 15-5 record and ranked at No. 9 while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship. The Golden Flyers, who won their eighth Empire 8 Championship, return Drew Simoneau who was an Honorable Mention All-American as a faceoff specialist.
"This weekend tournament provides us with a great opportunity to compete against two of the best teams in the country in Stevenson and Lynchburg," said head coach Rob Randall. "It will be a great weekend of lacrosse as two great programs from the North travel to Baltimore to take on two outstanding teams from the South."
Stevenson, the reigning national champions, finished last season ranked at No. 4 with a 22-2 record following a 16-14 victory over RIT in the national championship game. The Mustangs led Division III with 11 USILA All-American selections last and return first team defender Kyle Holechek who finished with 74 ground balls and 32 caused turnovers as well as second team attackman Chris Dashiell who totaled 86 points on 33 goals and 53 assists.
"This a great way to showcase Division III Lacrosse at the highest level," said head coach Paul Cantabene. "We are honored to host some of the best teams in the country for this mid-season classic. To have four teams that are ranked play four games over two days in one of the nation's best venues is a coach and player's dream."
Lynchburg and Cortland open the classic with the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The Hornets have made seven appearances in the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship while the Red Dragons have won fourth national titles with the last coming in 2009.
Stevenson and Nazareth will faceoff in the second game on Friday. The Mustangs won the first meeting a year ago 17-11 in the season opener for both teams. Mark Pannenton scored five goals and added one assist while Troy Haefele led the Golden Flyers with three goals and one assist. The game will also see two All-American faceoff specialists in Simoneau and Brent Hiken.
The second day opens with Lynchburg taking on Nazareth in the first meeting between the two schools. The Hornets are the reigning Old Dominion Athletic Conference champions while the Golden Flyers won their first Empire 8 Championship since 2009.
The classic wraps up with a match-up between Stevenson and Cortland. The Mustangs hold a 2-1 advantage in three all-time meetings, but the Red Dragons won the last meeting, 13-9 on Mar. 17, 2012. Pannenton, the 2013 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship Most Outstanding Player, will face his former team after transferring from SUNY Cortland after his freshman season.
Mustang Mid-Season Classic
Friday, March 21
Lynchburg vs. Cortland - 5 PM
Stevenson vs. Nazareth - 7:30 PM
Saturday, March 22
Nazareth vs. Lynchburg - 5 PM
Stevenson vs. Cortland - 7:30 PM