By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
Just two games into the 2015 season the University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s lacrosse team has made history. The Wolverines recorded the first shutout in the program’s 13-year history after topping Montreat College 10-0 during the team’s spring trip on Feb. 22.
The man who guarded the net for the shutout is not a seasoned veteran. In fact, he’s the very opposite.
Junior David Stephanoff is in his first season as UM-Dearborn’s goalie. He made the transition over the offseason when the Wolverines were unable to pick up a netminder through recruiting.
Stephanoff was excited to see time run out as his teammates and himself celebrated the never-before-seen accomplishment.
“It was pretty surreal actually. It took a second to settle in and when it finally did, I kind of just threw my hands in the air and ran towards my teammates,” Stephanoff said. “It was amazing to be part of that game and share that experience with the team.”
He recorded 10 saves in the Wolverines’ victory and made sure his team came home with a win after losing their game the previous day.
Head coach Jason Watts has been impressed by Stephanoff’s effort in the transition to arguably the toughest position on the field.
“David has been remarkable in all aspects of playing goalie. Goalies are the quarterback of the defense as they must direct traffic, clear the ball, and of course make saves,” Watts said. “He has worked hard since he picked up the stick back in August when he first decided to step into that role and tries to improve every day.”
Stephanoff was humble about taking credit for the shutout. He noted the way his defensemen in front of him played was a big part of the success.
“I wish I could take the credit for it, but my defense played phenomenal. They made sure Montreat only took outside shots and those are the kind of shots I want to be seeing,” Stephanoff said. “We gave them nothing inside and that made the saves relatively easy on my part. They did all the hard work though.”
Watts agreed that the defense played extremely well in front of his goalie. He mentioned that the team has responded greatly to Stephanoff taking over as the starting goalie.
“The guys feel really comfortable with David in net. David has always been the ultimate team player and the team really respects him for filling the void and developing as quickly as he did,” Watts said.
Even with recording the first shutout in program history, both Watts and Stephanoff said there is more work to be done. The celebration after the game didn’t go on long as the team discussed what they could learn to do better from the game.
Stephanoff explained that while it is special being the goalie who notched the first shutout, it is really a group effort all around.
“It’s special to know I was able to perform with my team to achieve this goal, but it’s even more special to know how much work was put in by everyone to get me where I am with my goalie play,” Stephanoff said. “I could not have done with without (goaltenders) Coach (Patrick) Riley, or the rest of my team for that matter.”
Watts did say that having a first year goalie achieve the milestone does make it “that much more special.”
For Stephanoff, this will be without a doubt one of the most memorable moments of his lacrosse career.
“It will be a fond memory for a very long time,” Stephanoff said.