The Weekend in Stick: Pressure Makes Diamonds (Part I)

via cdn1.sbnation.com

"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.)

You probably napped a lot this weekend. Don't feel bad about that; lots of Americans nap on the weekend. Congress, in fact, is currently debating legislation that actually requires six hours of napping per American per weekend day. It's kind of like a minimum wage for napping, which, I think, is inherently important to the social compact. The problem with napping, though, is that you miss stuff.

So, if you were napping this weekend and missed lacrosse stuff, here's the five biggest stories from the weekend.

Hopkins is Vincible and North Carolina Has the Kryptonite
So, all it takes to beat Johns Hopkins this season is a ridiculous offensive performance and complete domination of possession margin. Got it.

Going into Sunday, I had kind of been beating the drum that the biggest factor in North Carolina's and Johns Hopkins' success this season had been each team's ability to control possession margin (offensive possessions against defensive possessions). Entering the weekend, the Tar Heels were second nationally in possession margin at almost +6 per 60 minutes of play; the Blue Jays were just behind Carolina at about +5 per 60 minutes of play. On Sunday -- due almost exclusively to R.G. Keenan winning 18 of his 25 draws -- the Tar Heels completely dominated Hopkins in the possession game, going +10 on the day in possession margin, good for a 58.3 possession percentage.

That's complete domination, and when you give North Carolina's murderous offense that kind of opportunity, Hopkins' defense was bound to wilt regardless of how much of a crushing force of will it had been throughout the year. The end result was the Blue Jays' worst defensive performance of the season (a 37.14 defensive efficiency on the day), the team's first loss, and a message from the Tar Heels to the rest of the country: We're (probably) done screwing around this year. (Maybe.)

Hofstra Sees Your Heartbreak and Raises You A Heart Pulled Clear From Its Chest
I had gotten tickets for Towson-Hofstra late last week, figuring it would be worth the trip out to Long Island. I ended up completely spacing out Saturday night on my ride from the office -- mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be tax attorneys -- and went home instead of to Shuart Stadium. I didn't get too bent out of shape when I realized that I just ate some tickets; instead, I just pulled up a bar stool at the pub and drank some of New York's and Long Island's finest brews.

As it turns out, I'm a world-class knucklehead: Due to my extended foray into stupid, I managed to miss one of the greatest collegiate comebacks ever. Having thoroughly dominated Towson for the first 48 minutes of play and holding a 9-3 advantage over the Tigers, Hofstra appeared poised to get a huge THUNDERDOME! victory and stop the bleeding that had been seeping from its head wound all season. Then, because Hofstra apparently did horrible things at some point in history and the world is trying to cycle even, Towson freaked out: In a 3:09 stretch, the Tigers pumped in three unanswered tallies; Hofstra attempted to steady the game and work the clock, but Towson went into another unconscious goal-scoring rampage, pumping in another three unanswered scores over the final 4:09 to play (the evening score came with, obviously, just two seconds left in regulation).

The game was tied and I wasn't there, instead talking to a girl who may have had undiagnosed shades of crazy the medical community doesn't even know about.

The story wouldn't be as good if Hofstra had pulled out the win in overtime, and because of all those apparently horrible things that Hofstra has done in the past, the script wouldn't be written that way: The Tigers dominated the first overtime period but got nothing to show for it; then, in the second overtime with Hofstra going man-down on some exceedingly boneheaded play from Mike DeNapoli, Towson finished its journey -- Justin Mabus canned a 10-yard bullet past Hofstra's Andrew Gvozden to give the Tigers an incomprehensible 10-9 victory.

I am truly an idiot.

Austin Kaut: Save-ior (Sorry)
There's kind of a theme among a lot of the bigger stories from this week: At some point in the game, the victor just snaps and starts carpetbombing its opponent. Penn State's 13-8 victory over Villanova didn't diverge from the script: Tied at six with the Wildcats in State College, the Nittany Lions decided that Villanova were to be punished for some undisclosed sin and kept the Wildcats off the board for the next 25 minutes (the total scoreless run was, actually, 31 minutes if you count the six minutes that Villanova didn't score to end the first half). In that span, Penn State scored six unanswered goals -- all without a personnel imbalance -- and completely smothered a team that totally dominated Syracuse last week in the final 30 minutes of play of that game.

Austin Kaut was a blonde satan for The Fightin' Tambronis from Planet Crushing, stopping 17 shots. He was given all the steak he could eat after being told that the only way he could eat it was if he fought and slaughtered the steer himself. Ol' Bessie will be missed.

The loss marks Villanova's first defeat at the hands of a Pennsylvanian school this season; just last week, the Wildcats won its first game against a non-Pennsylvanian school with its win against the Orange. I am officially running out of pointless trends relative to Villanova lacrosse.

Virginia Would Like to Let You Know One Thing: We're Still Boss, Hoss
I'm just going to template this now in case I need it for future reference: [Note that teams were tied at the half]; [Write surrealist narrative on how one team seizes control of the game due to either a run or a series of runs]; [Victory beer].

Let's fill it in: [Tied at five at the half]; [Steele Stanwick turns green, rips his jersey off, and gets five of his eight points in the second half, fueling two big runs (a 4-0 stretch between the last six minutes of the third quarter and the first five minutes of the last period and a 3-0 run to close the game)]; [Victory beer.]

The Cavaliers now prepare for North Carolina next week at Fetzer Field while Maryland gets ready to host Navy.

Close Shave, America; Close Shave, Barbasol
Colgate 15, Army 13
Fairfield 9, Bellarmine 8
Loyola 8, Ohio State 7
Cornell 7, Dartmouth 5
Bucknell 10, Holy Cross 9

So, uh, welcome to April, I guess. If this is what crunch time of college lacrosse is going to look like, I'm all for potential anarchy and disaster. There's a reason that we all sit around the computer and watch live streams of buildings being imploded in distant cities: It's totally awesome and there's the potential that something goes horribly wrong. (Well, not loss-of-life wrong, just the kind of wrong that involves personal and real property turning into collateral damage. We're not uncivilized animals, after all.)

The most surprising result from the above-five games is probably that Bucknell result. The Bison had been surging as of late, leaving a wake of destruction behind them after a disastrous three-loss February to start its season. While Bucknell never trailed on the day, the Bison still needed a big fourth quarter to overcome a scoreless (!!!) third period. In the end, Peter Burke was the hero on the day as his tally with 22 seconds remaining in regulation gave the Bison their decisive lead.

Also, Loyola: I see you giving away a 6-3 lead at the sunrise of the fourth quarter. That's the work of old Greyhounds; don't be old Greyhounds.

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