By Carter Davis
Student Writer


courtesy of

An airtight Stevenson Mustang defense shut down the Messiah’s men’s lacrosse offensive attack as the Falcons fell to their across-the-border conference opponent 13-1.

Weekend snow put the men’s season opener on hold, so the Falcons had a difficult task ahead. Stevenson came into the game ranked third in the nation and rebounded nicely after losing to top ranked RIT 17-10 in their season opener. The Mustangs also took the first step in their quest for a third straight conference title since joining the Commonwealth Conference in 2013.

“We wanted to handle the adversity and play through our game plan and really go after them,” Falcon Head Coach Atsen Bulus said. “They’re a team that likes to exert their will and we wanted to try and exert our will as much as we can.”

Stevenson exerted their aforementioned will right out of the gate when Stevenson Senior and 2014 USILA All-American Callum Robinson got the scoring started early. Callum’s goal was followed up just one minute later by another goal from junior Pat Candon who finised with five goals on nine shots. The pressure would continue as Stevenson held big edges in both total shots (50-22), and shots on goal (24-9) making it rough sledding for Messiah’s goalie tandem of sophomore Sam Stengle, and junior Brooks Arnold who came on in relief of Stengle to start the second half. Stevenson also got two goals apiece from seniors Billy Burgoyne, and Paul Danko.

Stevenson utilized its speed well, moving from midfield into the offensive zone and pressuring Messiah on the other end. “They dominated us in the midfield,” Bulus said. “Stevenson likes to pressure you, they like to extend outside of the box and our guys weren’t ready for that pressure.”

Messiah’s lone goal came at the 10:30 mark of the first period. Senior Will Franken got a rare opportunity close to the goalie circle and buried the shot past Stevenson goalie Ben Richards off a pass from fellow classmate Drew Pagenkopf. After that, Messiah had trouble getting behind Stevenson’s defensive line anchored by Robinson.

This contest was full of firsts for Messiah, being the debut of the Falcon’s first-year head coach, who came to Messiah from Ohio Wesleyan University. “It was an eye opener,” Bulus said about his first exposure to his new role. “At the end of the day it comes down to me being able to motivate [the players] to be able to know that they are good players. And that’s what I’ll continue to do is continue to empower them.”

Franken personally has taken to Bulus’s new offerings to the Messiah program. “He’s brought a lot of change in such a good way. He has a vision for making Messiah the best place to play college lacrosse.” It was also the men’s first game played on Messiah’s new turf lacrosse field, which was completed earlier this winter.

“It was fantastic,” Franken said of the new field. “The athletic department has done an amazing job. We are thankful for what they have done, and for those who have supported Messiah lacrosse financially.”

Looking ahead, the Falcons have two more games at home before going on a lengthy road swing. They will not be back on their new home turf until March 21st,  but with a new coach, and eager players around him, the Falcons have high hopes for their 2015 campaign.

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