NCAA Division III Notebook
Back in 2010, Jake Coon brought his RIT team down to Stevenson to open the season and it wasn't pretty. The Mustangs used two seven-goal runs to roll the Tigers, 20-10. It was a rude welcome for Coon, who was in his first year in Rochester.
After Wednesday night's 12-11 loss to the Mustangs in overtime, Coon is now 0-2 against Stevenson, but his team is in a much different place than it was four years ago.
"That was my first game as a head college coach and, frankly, I don't think the players were familiar enough with our systems," said Coon. "This year, we didn't have a very good scrimmage [against Conn. College and Adelphi] on Saturday, but the guys came out and played hard. I'm proud of how they responded."
Coon said that in 2010, Stevenson turned just about every mistake into a goal. That stayed the same this year, with the Tigers taking nine penalties, and allowing two EMO goals, while the Mustangs were rung up for just a pair of flags and no goals. While Coon found some of the calls curious — and is still unsure of a rules interpretation regarding a double stick check late in the game — it provided the team a benchmark that they could use going forward.
"We'll talk about the positives and build off of those and correct some other aspects," Coon said. "It was an out of region game, so it won't hurt us too much at the end of the season, and playing the No. 2 team in the country isn't going to set you back in that regard, anyway."
One of the big positives was the play of the Tigers' midfield. Coon knew his midfield would have to carry the load early in the season with the graduation of Tyler Russel and A.J. Tingle and the departure of Brendan McDonald on attack. Three goals came out of the attack against Stevenson, but the midfield was as good as expected.
Leading the way was sophomore Kyle Aquin. With the Mustangs leading, 10-7, with under seven minutes in the game, Aquin scored two of his four goals and dished out his only assist to help draw the Tigers even at the end of regulation. Aquin, who is wearing a redshirt, is also a captain — an impressive honor for a second-year guy.
"He tried to play hockey for a little while after he graduated from high school and then missed last year with an ACL injury, so he's older than your typical sophomore," Coon said. "The other players see him as a leader despite what his eligibility is."
RIT will have the weekend off as it prepares to host Brockport on Wednesday and then play a neutral site contest against Keuka next Saturday. The Tigers weren't able to start their season with an undefeated streak as they've done the past two season, but this program is in a much better spot than it was in 2010 at this time.
- Senior Rich Dupras is the best player on No. 6 Stevens, and when he was credited with 17 shots — a third of the 51 the Ducks took — in a 14-8 win over Merchant Marine, it looked like it was going to be a prolific season for the midfielder. Dupras is still going to have a huge year, but he's not going to be doing it by bombing away if Stevens head coach Gene Peluso has anything to say about it.
"We weren't happy with Dupras on Wendesday and we made no bones about it in the locker room," Peluso said. "He wasn't playing our style. We want to dodge north-south and we want to take the shots that we've earned, not dance around."
Peluso is a huge Dupras fan, and even admitted that Dupras came up to him after the game expressing regret at his play. But Peluso felt he needed to make sure everyone was on the same page.
"After the game against Merchant Marine when we got on Rich in the locker room, we probably didn't need to," Peluso said. "But it's a good for our guys in the locker room to see us get on Rich, who is the most decorated player in Stevens history, so that they know that if we're going to get on Rich, we're going to get on everybody. Rich came out the next couple of days at practice and worked on it and you saw the difference in him. He's certainly one of those guys who responds well. He gets it and understands the game extremely well."
With everyone working within the offensive system, the Ducks have been dominant. They wiped out Endicott (21-9) and doubled-up both Eastern Conn. (16-8) and No. 20 Springfield (16-8). Dupras' production during that span? Ten goals and six assists on just 35 shots.
- In an important Pool B showdown, Greensboro defeated Birmingham-Southern, 10-5, behind four goals from Alex Vander Hoff. As teams jockey for position in line for one of the five independent bids in May, this could be an important result for the Pride. However, G-boro has more pressing concerns, and that's getting to the .500 level. At 2-4, the Pride will have to finish up with a 6-4 mark against some pretty stiff competition. While Birmingham-Southern also has to go 6-4 down the stretch, its schedule appears to be more forgiving, although Sewanee (3-0) is looking like it could be a thorn in the Panthers' side in the SAA.
- For the last 45 minutes of the game, Western New England looked excellent against Stevenson, winning the last three quarters, 4-3. Unfortunately for the Golden Bears, they spotted the Mustangs a 6-1 lead after the first period. WNE will be players in the North...one of last week's surprise scores was Lebanon Valley's 20-4 rout of Randolph-Macon. Well, Frostburg State handed LVC an 8-6 defeat on Saturday to improve to 3-0 on the season...Tim Angell had seven goals and two assists in Washington & Jefferson's 19-7 win over La Roche...Cortland's Mike Kaminski made 15 saves and allowed only one goal against No. 14 Union. The Red Dragons are already frightening.
Babson is quietly off to a 2-0 start with wins over Skidmore and New England College...keep an on Saint Vincent in the Pool B race...after losing its opener to St. John Fisher, Geneseo has bounced back with two wins, including a 10-9 thriller against Naz...things just aren't coming as easily for Goucher this year. The Gophers have lost three straight...Hampden-Sydney's road win over Ohio Wesleyan, helped by four goals from Jess Hawthorne, was no small feat. The Tigers could easily be 11-1 heading into the April 13 game with Roanoke...rough start for RPI. The Engineers are now 0-3 after bowing to Keene State...Plattsburgh is 3-0.
Congrats to Transylvania and head coach Terry Justice after posting the first win in program history, a 7-6 win over Alma...also, congrats to Hope, Calvin, Olivet and Alma, four new MIAA programs that picked up their first varsity wins. Hope downed Baldwin-Wallace, 14-9, Olivet beat Benedictine, 16-12, Calvin trimmed Defiance, 5-4, and Alma knocked off Wilmington, 7-5 on Sunday...it's one of the lesser known trophy games, but Drew held on to the 'Madison Cup,' a rivalry game with cross-street rival FDU-Florham. The Rangers have won five of the last six meetings between the two schools...Elmira hung 26 goals on Houghton, the most goals for the Eagles since at least 2003.