"The Weekend in Stick": It's exactly what it sounds like -- a recapitulation of this weekend's most notable. No doink.
(Part II is here.)
There were 30 games played since Friday afternoon and for the first time in a while, there were very few explosions to watch from afar while wearing sunglasses and seeing the vengeful power of man. We're living in pretty much the same world we were when we all punched the clock Friday evening (except, of course, that Mercer is now part of the cool kids winning club). Here are the five biggest stories from the weekend.
Notre Dame and Denver Go Three Overtimes; Sean Rogers Should Wear a Cape
Sean Rogers is a superhero, always showing up just when Notre Dame needs him. With 2:35 left in the third overtime and the game knotted at nine, Rogers made himself available in the right alley, took a sharp pass from Ryan Foley from behind the cage, and punched the bean past Denver's Troy Orzech for the winner. It's consecutive game-winners for Rogers, who had the overtime winner (and almost had the regulation winner) for Notre Dame last week against Hofstra.
Notre Dame jumped out quickly on Denver, amassing a 4-1 lead into the early throws of the second quarter. The Pioneers then started their slow climb back into the game, getting to 7-4 at the half and yielding only two more talliesto the Irish over the final 30 minutes of regulation. In that span, Denver whittled away a four-goal deficit and finally drew even with a nifty unassisted goal from Jeremy Noble with just over six minutes to play. The teams then traded chances throughout the rest of regulation and the first two overtimes, with Pioneers' goalie Jamie Faus making some stops that would make doves cry.
Then, because Denver apparently angered the lacrosse gods due to a pregame sacrifice of a lacrosse stick with a traditional stringing or something, Faus went down with an apparent lower leg injury and was unable to play the third overtime period. The Pioneers didn't even get a chance at the win in that stanza: Nick Ossello won the draw for the Irish; a shot from Rogers went wide; the Irish recouped and Rogers made good on his second attempt, burning the ball past Orzech high-to-high and sending Arlotta Stadium into a frenzy.
The loss drops Denver to 4-2 on the year with a huge Tuesday game against Cornell on the horizon. Notre Dame improves to 4-1 on the year with a slate full of manageable games until mid-April.
Virginia Whacks Ohio State, Tells Country: "If You Want to Beat Us, You Best Come with Kryptonite"
If Ohio State ever suggests another game to Virginia to be played at the Horseshoe, I'm pretty sure that the Cavaliers are going to respond with a polite, "Yeah, about that. Thanks but no thanks."
The Buckeyes stormed out of the gates on Saturday, holding a 6-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. Ohio State, which had won only about 46 percent of its draws on the season going into the match, won six of eight faceoffs in the opening period and totally dominated the pace of play. In that frame, the Buckeyes got its six goals from six different players, potentially signalling the upset of the year.
Then, of course, the Cavaliers lost their minds and held Ohio State to three sporadic tallies the rest of the way.
The thing about Virginia this year is that they're basically a pipe bomb: At rest, it's fairly stable; if you play with it, you're going to get hurt really badly. A five-goal run without scoring concentration pulled the Cavaliers even at the half; a two-goal spurt from Ohio State to start the third period put the Buckeyes ahead 8-6; and then someone lit Virginia's fuse and functionally decapitated Ohio State: A six-goal run from the Cavaliers fueled by three assists from Stanwick and two goals from Ryan Tucker were the final words in the Buckeyes obituary.
Virginia remains unbeaten on the year, although things are only going to get tougher for the nation's best team: The Cavaliers' upcoming slate features nothing but power -- Johns Hopkins, Maryland, North Carolina, Duke, and then the cockamamie ACC Tournament. If the Cavaliers run through this unblemished, this may be the best college lacrosse team we've seen in a while.
Hopkins' Rebuilt Lacrossetrons Defeat Syracuse's Rebuilding Lacrossebots
It's all starting to come together for Johns Hopkins this season. And that is really scary.
2010 was a tough year for Hopkins, what with all the Baby Jays in the nest looking to be fed. 2011 was a year of transition, teaching flight. 2012 looks to be the year that the Blue Jays fend for themselves and survive despite predators lurking all over the place.
In the 50th meeting between college lacrosse's two most-decorated programs, Johns Hopkins frequently dominated what would end up being an 11-7 victory for the Blue Jays. With Hopkins holding a somewhat tenuous 6-4 advantage with 3:29 left in the first half, the Jays went on a 4-0 run -- a run in which Brandon Benn had a say in every tally (three goals and one assist) -- to pretty much put the game out of reach at 10-4. The win was Hopkins' first over Syracuse in five tries and marks the first time that the 45,387-time national champion is 7-0 since the program's undefeated 2005 campaign.
The stats here show that Hopkins absolutely imposed its will on the game: Syracuse was limited to about 23 possessions on the afternoon; Hopkins, contrastingly, had about 34. When the Blue Jays can limit the total number of possessions in the game and also dominate the possession margin, Hopkins is going to be in victory Gatorade-dumping mode.
Syracuse obviously has problems in 2012 -- this is the first time that the Orange have lost to Virginia and Johns Hopkins in the same season since its woeful 5-8 campaign in 2007-- but Johns Hopkins is looking more and more like a legitimate threat to Virginia's throne. The Jays' game against the Cavaliers next week at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville should be a fun precursor to Memorial Monday.
Duke and Carolina Do Duke-Carolina Things; Devils Pull Out 13-11 Win
Well, Jordan Wolf is awake. I hope you're ready for this, college lacrosse.
Wolf -- obviously fueled by his hate of one shade of blue over another -- went off for six points (three goals, three assists) in a win over rival North Carolina at Koskinen Stadium. The victory pushed the Blue Devils farther from the .500-mark which, when considering their upcoming schedule includes Syracuse, Denver, Virginia, and an interesting game against Georgetown, was a necessary in the overall.
The win wasn't easy for the Devils, though. After dominating the first half like a despot over his "supporters," Duke weathered two second half three-goal runs from Carolina -- one to pull the Tar Heels within 10-6, the other to within 11-9 -- to pull out a huge ACC win at home. While Wolf was the star on the day, North Carolina's Joe Sankey was arguably as good with six points of his own (three goals, three assists).
A lot of the credit for Duke's win goes to C.J. Costabile, who won 13 of his 22 face-off attempts. With that, Carolina's R.G. Keenan was limited to a 10-of-26 day at the dot which is all sorts of "Huh? Really?" The difference at the stripe not only helped Duke keep the ball out of Carolina's 30-prong offensive attack, but also kept the possession margin even on the day (33 offensive possessions each).
THUNDERDOME! Deathdate: Massachusetts Survives Penn States in Deathertime
It was a game of runs: A three-goal run of brass knuckles-to-the-face haymakers put the Minutemen up 3-1 halfway through the first quarter; a three-goal explosion of nail gun blunderbuss from Penn State put the Nittany Lions up one before the start of the second; a two-goal scorching from a homemade flamethrower from Massachusetts followed by a three-goal crossbow ambush from Penn State put the Nittany Lions ahead (7-5) to start the final period; then, an unanswered three-goal whips-and-chains-to-the-skull beating from Massachusetts set the stage for dramatics that didn't involve costumes or flowers being thrown at the stage.
Matt Mackrides -- a crushing points machine for the Penn State Tambronis this season -- shuffled the ball past Tim McCormack for an unassisted goal with 5:30 left in regulation to tie the score at eight. After that, Penn State had a few chances in the final two minutes of regulation to drop Massachusetts with a tire iron to the face, but McCormack and the Minutemen defense held strong despite a couple of set opportunities from the Nittany Lions.
In the overtime period -- just 58 seconds in to be exact -- it was Mike Fetterly for the Minutemen who beat Austin Kaut with an unassisted goal to keep Massachusetts undefeated on the year and giving Penn State its third loss on the season. THUNDERDOME! is going to THUNDERDOME!, and the Colonial only rewards the bruised and battered, not the expired and critically wounded.