The Weekend in Stick: Tournament'd (Part I)

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"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.)

That was a lot of lacrosse back-to-back-to-back-to-back. And then back-to-back-to-back-to-back again. Your television deserves a Purple Heart for becoming the kind of furniture that is indispensable, kind of like that lady-leg lamp that you bought at a yard sale and will never give up (even during the robot invasion when they try and confiscate all indicia of former human rule.)

Here are the three biggest stories from the weekend.

Joe Cummings is Coated in Asbestos, Doesn't Feel the Heat (He Should Probably Get That Checked Out)
Cummings waited and waited, letting about a minute and a half bleed from the clock while he patiently held the ball at the end line. The senior then did what seniors do: Wash away 59 minutes and 45 seconds of anarchy with a deft dodge to and around the cage, pulling to Matt Poillon's left and ripping one off-hip to give Maryland a huge 10-9 victory over the host Lehigh Mountain Hawks.

It was a crazy scene in Bethlehem Sunday night; a packed house of around 2,000 showed up to watch extended periods of stalled possessions and, at times, inspired offensive play. The Terrapins gave Lehigh a tire iron to the face in the early going, holding a 6-1 lead with 5:52 remaining in the second quarter. Owen Blye was full of vigilante justice in the early going having a hand in five of Maryland's first six tallies. Then, because the Mountain Hawks wouldn't get halftime orange slices if they didn't fight back or something, Lehigh rallied with three goals to close the half.

That wouldn't be the end of the cockamamie nonsense, though. Feeling strong after their well-deserved citrus infusions, the Mountain Hawks assaulted the Terps to the tune of a four-goal run over the first four minutes of the second stanza, pulling out to an 8-6 lead. Matt Poillon was turning in heroic play, and while the margin wasn't necessarily out of reach, it felt like Lehigh was going to eventually choke the life out of Maryland with its defense which had done man's work all season.

Alas, it would not last for the upstarts. The teams traded goals to start the fourth quarter and then all the momentum went Maryland's way. Three unassisted tallies from Drew Snider, Mike Chanenchuk, and the winner from Cummings ended up serving as the deathblows. Lehigh's defensive mentality with hard slides to help seemed to disappear down the stretch, allowing for the "All by Myself!" tallies, which is ultimately the story of the night.

Colgate Drops Massachusetts; Thousands Diagnosed with "I Told You So!"
In a nationally televised episode of technical difficulties -- Why didn't we ever see the super awesome test pattern of doom? -- the Raiders went into Garber Field and pulled out a gutsy 13-11 victory over previously undefeated and sixth-seeded Massachusetts. How Colgate and the Minutemen went about their business isn't as interesting as the furor that went down after the result.

Entering the tournament, the huge discussion point dominating this game and Massachusetts in general were that the Minutemen hadn't played anyone; that their schedule was soft and that their perfect record was somehow hollow. The majority of folks were applauding Massachusetts' seeding while those in Western Massachusetts were having a conniption that the Minutemen were seeded so low. Hell, even I thought that Massachusetts kind of received a deserved seed.

Then Colgate dropped the Gorillas. You would've thought that personal vindication for following college lacrosse somehow inured to denizens of the game. I want to be very clear about this: Colgate beating Massachusetts doesn't prove that the Minutemen were a fraud in 2012 or that they earned only a six-seed; an "I told you so!" response is myopically misplaced. When you push that erroneous line of thinking, you severely underrate how good a team the Raiders are this season. Colgate has shown that they can play with anyone this season, and if they had been somehow drawn with Virginia, Notre Dame, et al., they may have walked out of the weekend with a win.

Again, this isn't so much about Massachusetts (which was put in a tough spot (but then again, they didn't necessarily deserve more than being a tough spot)) but about the opponent that the Minutemen drew. Good teams lose lacrosse games, and in a tournament where you could have made a case for 14 of the original participants to make it to Championship Weekend, Massachusetts just picked the wrong time to lose.

This was a great season for the Minutemen and it's a shame that a lot of folks are going to remember it as built on smoke and mirrors. It wasn't; it was just that they didn't have enough on a day when their opponent had plenty. Any given day, I suppose.

Annapolis Becomes the Planet Ridiculous Ticket
Have you ever wondered what the end of the world is going to look like? No? Well, you may want to check out Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday to get a glimpse. (That is, of course, if you can get a ticket.)

According to Patrick Stevens of The Washington Times, the all-time NCAA Tournament quarterfinal attendance record is 17,017. Navy-Marine Corps Stadium holds that record, achieving it in 2008 when Navy, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, and Virginia threw hands along the bay. Saturday -- assuming people avoid watching horsies run fast in Baltimore -- has the chance to topple that mark. Johns Hopkins and Maryland will square off in the opener of the doubleheader at noon while Loyola and Denver will close the festivities at 2:30. The concoction of local teams and monster games is a violent brew for people getting off their couches and filling the stands.

If you're looking for tickets -- and I'd get on these, like, now -- here you go.

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