Balestrieri Scores Four, No. 1 Mustangs Survive Scare From York (Pa.), 9-8
OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Stevenson men's lacrosse sophomore Joe Balestrieri scored four goals in his debut, but back-to-back goals by Glen Tompkins in the game's final 62 seconds of regulation and overtime gave the No. 1-ranked Mustangs a 9-8, come-from-behind, overtime victory over York (Pa.) Saturday night at Mustang Stadium.
Stevenson (1-0) is now 10-0 in season openers under head coach Paul Cantabene, including 7-0 at home and 3-0 at Mustang Stadium. The Mustangs have also won 12-straight overall and 12 consecutive at Mustang Stadium.
After the Spartans (0-1) scored on their opening possession to take a 1-0 lead, Stevenson scored the next four, including three in the first quarter, to take a 4-1 halftime lead. Balestrieri scored twice while sophomore Stephen Banick and senior Chris Dashiell each netted one.
For Banick, it was his first goal since May 16, 2012 after he missed all but one game last season with a leg injury. He was selected as a USILA Honorable Mention All-American as a freshman that year after leading the team with 36 goals, 27 assists and 63 points.
Determined, York opened the second half by scoring three-straight goals, including two from Tyler Hutson, to tie the game at 4-4 with 9:57 remaining. The Spartans outscored the Mustangs 5-1 in the quarter, with three goals coming with a man-advantage, as York took a 6-5 lead into the fourth.
Banick tied the game with his second with 12:23 to play in regulation before the Spartans' Chris Varela and James Lowe scored back-to-back to put York in front by two, 8-6.
Varela's goal was the fourth-straight man-up goal for the Spartans who finished the game 4-for-7. Stevenson has allowed eight goals on 17 man-advantage opportunities over its last two games after RIT went 4-for-10 in the 2013 national championship game.
Balestrieri netted his fourth with 5:38 left before Tompkins scored with just 23 seconds remaining to tie the game for the fifth time and send it into overtime.
Senior Brent Hiken, who was 17-for-20 on face-offs, won the opening draw to start the extra period, securing possession for the Mustangs who quickly called timeout to set up their offense.
After a quick rotation, Stevenson quickly reversed the ball where freshman Edward McLoughlin picked up his first career point when he found Tompkins in front for the game-winner just 39 seconds into overtime.
Despite a commanding 58-26 advantage in shots and a 40-21 margin in ground balls, the Mustangs overcame 17 turnovers to post a victory over its former Capital Athletic Conference rival and improved its record to 3-1 in overtime the last two seasons.
For his efforts, Balestrieri was named the Bonefish Grill Player of the Game. Sophomore Dimitri Pecunes made 11 saves while his counterpart, Caleb Abney, had 22 for the Spartans.
Stevenson travels to Syracuse, N.Y., next Saturday, February 22 for a national championship game rematch with RIT at the Carrier Dome. Face-off is at 4:00 p.m.