Stevenson vs. York: Top-Ranked Mustangs Survive Scare, Win 9-8 in Overtime

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The top-ranked Stevenson Mustangs opened their season on Saturday with a less-than ideal performance against York College. The defending national champions managed to weather a five-goal storm in the third quarter, force overtime and take home a season-opening 9-8 win. Joe Balestrieri scored four goals and Glen Tompkins netted the last two, first tying the game with 23 seconds left in regulation before winning it in overtime.

York struck first with a Tyler Davis goal just 43 seconds into the game, but the rest of the half would be dominated by the Mustangs. Balestrieri evened the game up at the 10:31 mark, followed by goals from Stephen Banick, a second from Balestrieri, and Chris Dashiell to close out the half. Dashiell’s goal at the 12:35 mark of the second quarter was the only goal of the second frame and gave Stevenson a 4-1 lead headed into the break.

The third quarter was all York, however. Tyler Hutson opened the second-half scoring with a pair of goals at the 12:18 and 11:33 marks, then the Spartans evened the score at four apiece on a extra-man goal by Chris Varela. Balestrieri’s third goal of the game briefly gave Stevenson the lead back, but two more EMO goals from York saw the Spartans take a 6-5 lead into the fourth and final quarter.

Banick’s second goal of the game, another EMO goal, tied the game at the 12:23 mark but the Spartans netted another extra-man goal to take the lead back. James Lowe’s goal at the 6:21 mark gave York its first and only two-goal lead, but Balestrieri and Tompkins goals to close the game saved Stevenson from losing its first ever season opener under Paul Cantabene.

Coming off its first national championship, Stevenson will get the champions welcome everywhere they go. With a huge trophy-sized target on their backs, the Mustangs will get every team’s best shot from now until Memorial Day and now that they have weathered the first challenge they know what to expect from the rest of their schedule.

Leading Scorers: Stevenson – Balestrieri (4 goals); York – Dakota Randall (3 assists)
Goalkeepers: Stevenson – Dimitri Pecunes (W, 8 GA, 11 saves); York – Caleb Abney (L, 9 GA, 22 saves)
Faceoffs: Stevenson – Brent Hiken (17-20), Justin Buonomo (1-1); York – Dale Kowatch (1-10), Sam Lundin (1-5), Jake Katchmark (1-6)
Special Teams: Stevenson (2-5: Banick, Tompkins); York (4-7: Varela 2, Lowe, Andrew Gamble)