It was the first big weekend of the year and one thing is clear: We don't know anything (except for a few things that will likely extinguish themselves next week).
Truth: Reality is Better than Fiction
I'm not yet willing to proclaim 2013 as an extension of 2012's eternal exercise in insanity (rather, February tends to have February-type things happen, which is accepted madness rather than prolonged sociopathic results), but coming into this weekend I don't think anybody necessarily expected these results (and how the games played out):
- Lafayette 11, Georgetown 10 (OT)
- Marist 13, Stony Brook 9
- Hobart 18, Siena 15
- Loyola 9, Delaware 8
- Virginia 13, Drexel 12
- St. John's 11, Holy Cross 9
- Mount St. Mary's 12, Bucknell 11
- Albany 16, Syracuse 15 (2OT)
This is what happens when talent starts to leverage itself throughout Division I, shrinking the gaps between teams and blurring the tiers of competitiveness. This has been a welcomed development over the last few seasons, and it may signal that Earth is spinning itself off its axis with gravity becoming more and more unstable. Embrace this situation and send it a nice card with, maybe, a fruit basket or something; the end of the world isn't going to be so bad.
Among these results, there are three that stick out as especially brains-leaking-from-ears: (1) The Leopards dropping the Hoyas; (2) Hobart putting the moves on Siena; and (3) The Mount recoiling after the beating it took earlier in the week at Maryland to grab a big scalp in Bucknell. It was anticipated -- which, yeah, that was a dumb thing to do -- that Georgetown could sit as a potential dark horse for hell raising this season with the construct of the roster that new coach Kevin Warne had at his disposal. Instead, Lafayette -- under the command of new Supreme Leopard in Charge of Lacrosse Concerns, Jim Rogalski -- pulled out its Patriot League membership card and decided to do what all of its conference peers seem to want to do these days: Win games, competition be damned. The Hoyas still have plenty of time to get their act together, but the loss to the Leopards makes you wonder what, exactly, Georgetown is going to look like this season.
As for the 'Bart-Siena result: (1) The Saints haven't left the station all that well this season, and may not have the stranglehold on the MAAC that many assumed; and (2) Cam Stone and Alex Love are pushing Seneca Lake as the most radical place on I-90 to watch lacrosse this spring. The Statesmen were hurting to get wins like this last season, and dropping Siena (while not a world-defining win) may indicate that Hobart is ready to play 60 minutes against decent competition and not fall into the abyss of "almost, but not quite, a weekly pain in the rear-end."
With respect to the Bison's loss, all I think I need to write is this: When your defensive efficiency value sits at 40 goals allowed per 100 defensive opportunities, the opponent shoots above 46 percent, and the opponent generates 50 saves per 100 opportunities, you're probably not going to like the end result. The Mount remains dangerous this season -- both within and without the NEC -- and Bucknell (after two close games to open their 2013 season) is a bit of an enigma.
Massachusetts Beats Carolina in Georgia (Huh?), 12-11
Here's the news that doesn't involve Massachusetts attack Will Manny having a broken thumb that may sideline him for six weeks: The Minutemen are pretty good and North Carolina remains the reason you rub your temples when trying to explain to people why you can't figure out college lacrosse teams.
Here's the news that involves Massachusetts attack Will Manny having a broken thumb that may sideline him for six weeks: Massachusetts attack Will Manny has a broken thumb that may sideline him for six weeks. (Importantly, there are two pins in Manny's hand, which means that he is now part-cyborg and is probably going to come back in a month-and-a-half and destroy everything in his path because that's what cyborgs and part-cyborgs do.)
As for important notes from the game itself, this is probably all you need to know to impress your friends with your depth of lacrosse knowledge:
- A Holman goal with two seconds remaining in the third quarter put Carolina up 11-8, in control having led all game. Massachusetts managed to hang around, falling behind 7-4 at the half, but were slowly gaining ground until a two-goal run late the third that ended with the Holman tally. Things appeared to be moving in the Tar Heels' direction, especially with Manny on the sideline.
- Then the fourth quarter happened, seeing the Minutemen snap and Carolina failing to get anything going. Massachusetts started eating into their deficit right from the start, getting a goal from Andrew Sokol at the 14:01 mark and following it up with an unassisted tally just under two minutes later. The Minutemen were within one and things appeared to stall a bit, but Grant Whiteway knotted the score at 11 with his second goal of the day 4:16 remaining.
- This is where things get a little nuts. To the press release!
The final goal of the game went on to become the decisive tally, with Mooney recording his third mark of the day on the play. Mooney rolled around the left side of the goal from the back of the cage and stopped at the crease, jumping into the air while placing a shot into the lower-right corner of the goal for the 12-11 lead with 3:18 to play in the contest.
After North Carolina had a pair of tying attempts go wide of the net in the span of 13 seconds, beginning with 2:35 left to play, the Minutemen kept possession away from its defensive zone until the final seconds of the contest. After a UMass turnover near midfield, North Carolina's Greg McBride scooped up the loose ball and sprinted toward the UMass goal. McBride sent a last-second game-tying attempt on-frame, with Oliveri adjusting to the shot to record his final save of the day and secure the win.
The Minutemen are looking like they are ready to challenge everyone to a duel that questioned whether Massachusetts would be able to follow up their impressive 2012 campaign; their two wins to start the season -- a drubbing of Army and a gutty performance against Carolina -- are strong and their play is indicative of a team that is going to make noise all season. As for Carolina? It's tough to say. The win last weekend against Air Force is solid, but how the 'Heels closed their effort on Saturday is concerning. Lacrosse remains the best.
Penn State Beats Denver, Which Beat Duke Last Week, Which Took a Curb-Stomping From Notre Dame This Week
This is what happens when you try and crown teams in February -- Anarchy. These are all still really good teams, squarely in contention for a trip to Championship Weekend in May, but how these games are shaking out have created some "Huh?" utterances:
- Duke's defense really hasn't shown up yet in totem, allowing double-digit goals in each of its two big outings this season despite having some of the strongest field defenders in the country. Exacerbated by the fact that the Devils have gotten nothing from the crease this season, Duke's effort out of the gate this year leaves much to be desired.
- Penn State appears to have an offense this season, buoyed by the play of Shane Sturgis. Also: Will Manny has very important feelings about Jack Forster:
Forster looks 30.....— Will Manny (@Willie_the_K1d) February 17, 2013
- All the individual hype for Notre Dame this season was built around John Kemp, freshman Matt Kavanagh, and super-senior Sean Rogers. Lost in that shuffle is midfielder Jim Marlatt, quietly the most efficient player that the Irish ran with last season -- despite heavy usage and responsibility -- and arguably among the top two or three midfielders in the Big East. He blew five balls past Duke goaltenders this weekend in a driving snow while also pitching in an assist and canning over 45 percent of his 11 shots. He may not draw the ink that his peers do, but he is full of rainbows and sunshine.
- "Denver is going to win the national championship!" "Denver has problems!" That's two weeks in the life of the Pioneers. Denver is going to be fine as the season progresses and the loss to the Nittany Lions this weekend doesn't mitigate that fact. What the Pioneers have proved, however, is that Division I lacrosse is a cruel mistress that should be approached cautiously.