For Stevenson senior attacker Jimmy Dailey, nothing beats home cooking.

In three games this season at the Mustangs’ Caves Athletic Complex, Dailey has racked up 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists, part of his team-best total of 27 points (12g, 15a). The first two of those performances – four goals and four assists in a 19-3 win over Mary Washington and four goals and five assists in a 19-5 win over Kean, earned him the Offensive Player of the Week award in the Capital Athletic Conference, and another three goals and four assists in a 22-4 win over Hood on Wednesday could have him en route to more honors.

“I think we’re very excited about how the season’s started so far,” said Dailey, whose Mustangs climbed to No. 2 in this week’s USILA Division III Poll. “I think it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work in the offseason. Things have been going well offensively, and I think we have so many dynamic players, and I think that this week, I was in the right place at the right time.”

Of course, being in the right place at the right time is how Dailey ended up at Stevenson, where the Westminster, Maryland native has helped lead a local team to the upper echelon of the Division III ranks. When Mustangs head coach Paul Cantabene came calling, representing a school 20 minutes from his home that had previously had a middling program, the opportunity to start a tradition of success was enticing.

“I talked to Coach Cantabene,” Dailey said. “I thought it, right off the get-go, that it was a great fit. My parents really liked him, and I came on a visit. I really bought into what he was saying, the culture change that he was starting here, and I thought that it was a really exciting time. It’s sort of close, but it was hard to pass on such positive energy.”

For Cantabene, a player like Dailey, who isn’t a prototypical attacker at 5’9” was exactly the player he needed.

“When we first got here,” Cantabene said, “lacrosse wasn’t taken very seriously. We were trying to get guys who wanted to win, wanted to work hard in the offseason and remain in the right things. When we watched Jimmy, we thought he was a very dynamic player, but we also knew that not a lot of people knew about him because of his size. Not a lot of people wanted to take a chance on him, and we thought, after talking with him and visiting him, he’d be the kind of guy who would work hard in the offseason, who wanted to be a good player, and we were willing to take a chance on him even though he’s small.

“I thought he was one of the quickest guys I saw all summer, and used to running an offense. We were looking for someone who could run our offense, and he was already familiar with that from his high school, so I thought it was a good relationship, and it blossomed throughout the four years.”

Dailey was an instant success, leading Stevenson – then known as Villa Julie College – in goals and assists as a freshman, helping the Mustangs improve from 8-8 to 11-5. A shoulder injury sidelined him for the 2008 season, but he came back in 2009 as the No. 2 scorer on a team that went 17-2 and reached the Division III Semifinals before falling to Gettysburg. As a junior, Dailey scored 44 goals and added 37 assists as the Mustangs got back to the semifinals.

Now, after another hard offseason of work, Dailey has come out for his senior year as an offensive juggernaut.

“He’s probably 10 pounds bigger than he was, with muscle, a year ago,” Cantabene said. “That’s really helped him go against defenders. They haven’t been able to push him around as much. I think that’s really been one of the biggest differences in him this year. He’s really able to turn that corner, not get pushed out, and finish the play. In past years, he’s been stuck on the left-hand side of the field a lot, because we had two other great attackmen. Now, we’re starting a natural lefty, so it’s freed him up to go to his strong hand a little more. It’s made him even tougher to guard.

“He’s also getting some points because of the hard work of the other guys. We have some other good players who are able to create some things, and they’re getting him the ball in the right spot as well. It’s paid off both ways for him.”

And, with the NCAA Championship back in Baltimore, less than 20 miles from Stevenson’s campus in Owings Mills, the timing is perfect for Dailey to close out his exemplary career by leading the Mustangs to an NCAA Championship.

As one would expect, Dailey is committed to making that happen.

“For me, being a local guy, it’d be a dream to play in the big game in M&T Bank Stadium,” Dailey said. “We have a veteran group of seniors who have tons of playing time throughout their career, and I think everybody’s all in for that common goal.”