The Weekend in Stick: Time to Power Slide (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.)

Welcome to "The Moment." You know "The Moment": The lights come on, the laser show starts, the crowd swells, and then it happens -- some knucklehead shreds a lick on his ax and proceeds to power slide across the floor, sending the ladies into a tizzy and making you seriously consider buying a pair of tight leather pants. (Reminder: That's a really bad idea.)

That's where we are in the college lacrosse season, people. We're in the power slide and you know it's only going to rock your face off the rest of the way.

Here's the four biggest stories from the weekend.

Hopkins Drops Loyola; Media and Coaches Cancel Weekly Poll Due to LSD-Ridden Reality
It took overtime -- although it didn't feel like that would be necessary with about 14 minutes to play in the fourth quarter and the Blue Jays holding a 9-5 advantage over the Greyhounds -- but Hopkins eventually gave Loyola its first loss of the season in a 10-9 victory at Ridley Athletic Complex. Zach Palmer was the hero on the day for Johns Hopkins (despite the fact that Rob Guida had the winner with two seconds remaining in the overtime period) with his four point -- two goals, two helpers (including on Guida's hammer at the buzzer) -- performance.

There are probably three things to pull from this game:

  1. Watching a Loyola video stream of their lacrosse games is like entering a familial cult. There was so much "we" on the videocast that I almost felt obligated to bring a dish to the potluck broadcast. That must have really burned supporters of the Jays, which kind of makes my heart tingle in a special way.
  2. Hopkins likely assured itself a relatively high seeded position in the NCAA Tournament as it now holds one of the two or three biggest scalps available. Charles Street is going to be a busy place in two weeks.
  3. Loyola, despite the loss, is still a truckload of pain. Down four goals with just over 14 minutes remaining in regulation, the 'Hounds methodically climbed back into the game with four unanswered goals, including the game-tying tally with just five ticks left on the clock. It was balanced scoring throughout that stretch, with four different players registering hammers and only one player -- Justin Ward -- pitching in more than a point in the streak. This is still a dangerous team, especially when you consider that Loyola traded blows all day with Hopkins and only saw Mike Sawyer -- the Greyhounds' Seiji Ozawa -- only generate one point (an unassisted goal) on the day.

Questions now abound about who, exactly, is the best team in Division I. The answer, I think, is simple: Team Catastrophe.

Lehigh Wins the Patriot League Tournament and is Awarded a Declaration of NCAA Invitation
Lehigh is going to its first-ever NCAA Tournament, boys and girls. This ain't your Pappy's college lacrosse landscape.

The final count -- 16-14 in favor of the Mountain Hawks -- yields a belief that this was a dogfight throughout, but that'd be a fib that North Korea probably wouldn't touch. An early start that saw Lehigh race out to a 5-0 lead ultimately did in the host-Raiders, a hole that even Peter Baum (a man that went for back-to-back nine point games in the Patriot League Tournament) couldn't pull his team out of. The game was hectic and franctic and arousing for its final three periods of play (the kind of even play expected coming into Sunday), but in the end Lehigh somewhat oddly showed itself an offensive equal to Colgate in many respects and also that its defense, anchored on the day by Matt Poillon's 14 saves, could survive an onslaught from one of Division I stronger units.

The loss doesn't necessarily take the shine off of Colgate's season, but it does put pressure on the Raiders to try and take care of business against Maryland this week in Hamilton. Lehigh, meanwhile, becomes one of the most intriguing teams in the NCAA Tournament, not only because of their ability but also because of their freshness. It was a grand finale for a league that deserved a major platform for its overall strength this season, and both Lehigh and Colgate delivered. Please take note of this, other less-freedom loving conferences.

THUNDERDOME! Almost THUNDERDOMED! Like It Was 20THUNDERDOME!
This season, THUNDERDOME! hadn't exactly lived up to its billing: Massachusetts, with the exception of a small hiccup against Penn State, has pretty much cruised through the conference season; the bottom of the league has been pretty atrocious; and the meaty middle of the conference -- the true grit of THUNDERDOME! where lightning meets thunder and blood falls from the sky -- had kind of sorted itself out, with only Hofstra and Towson scrapping for an undelivered league tournament invitiation. And, coming into Saturday, it seemed almost a given that Towson -- needing only a win over wounded-and-bleeding-profusely-from-the-skull St. Joseph's -- would lock up the postseason spot.

Then, as if THUNDERDOME! somehow knew that the Patriot League had stolen its place among the rabble-rousers of the non-blue bloods, THUNDERDOME! unleashed its fury: The Hawks -- which hadn't won a THUNDERDOME! conference game since its inclusion in the league starting in 2011 -- dropped Towson, 6-3, in a game in which St. Joseph's never trailed. You can't explain the fury of THUNDERDOME!; you can only merely accept the blind-side throwing star that is heading directly for your face.

Hofstra -- ROLL PRIDE!; HOFBAMA! -- appeared to have its opening. If the Pride could knock off Penn State out in State College, Hofstra would earn the last THUNDERDOME! spot. Just a few minutes after Towson crapped its collective pants, though, THUNDERDOME! displayed its trademark lack of compassion: After holding numerous multi-goal leads throughout the afternoon -- including a 7-3 advantage late in the third quarter -- Hofstra eventually bowed to Penn State in double overtime, 9-8, after a Shane Sturgis deathblow to the heart with the kill assist going to Matt Mackrides. The one-goal loss was the sixth such for Hofstra this season, a fact that is gruesome and mean and generally dastardly.

So, Towson moves on to the THUNDERDOME! Tournament where they'll join Massachusetts, Penn State, and Drexel. Last team not to die, wins.

Ivy League to World: "Don't Judge Us! We're Beautiful!"
Here's what the world of generally sane people thought about the Ivy League during the preseason and probably through about mid-March: Cornell was likely the class of the league, even without the Sasquatch; Princeton would challenge for the league's top-honors, although the likelihood of that wasn't much more than 50-50; Yale and Harvard would round out the conference's postseason tournament inclusions; and Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, and Brown would pound each other into the bottom of the league. That felt good; it felt right.

Well, generally sane people were kind of right, but beautiful chaos changed the tint a bit:

  • With Princeton's 14-9 stomping of Cornell at Class of 1952 Campground, the Tigers took home an unshared regular season Ivy League title and will host the conference's postseason tournament this weekend. Alex Capretta -- a senior performing on Senior Day (not the kind of Senior Day that involves playing cards and complaining about sciatica) -- had five goals on eight shots and made Andrew West's and A.J. Fiore's day just about as bad as one that involves playing cards and complaining about sciatica.
  • With Yale's 10-8 triumph over Harvard-- it's the seventh in a row (all following an epic five-overtime loss against Princeton) for a surging Bulldogs team that still doesn't have a solid grip on existence -- the Crimson find their season finished. Harvard wasn't even pushed out of the league's postseason run on tiebreakers as Brown's 3-3 Ivy League record was a win better than the Crimson's 2-4 mark. If you would've told me in February that Brown's eventual win over Cornell would decide Harvard's fate, I'd have paid you a dollar and asked you to no longer babble nonsense to me on the streets of New York City.

Now we patiently wait for the wine and cheese crowd to get its party underway. Princeton will draw Brown while Yale will get a potential fireworks show with Cornell. These are the good times, people.

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