The Weekend in Stick: Holy Macaroni (Part I)

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

"The Weekend in Stick": It's exactly what it sounds like -- a recapitulation of this weekend's most notable. No doink.

We're living in a world where Providence remains unbeaten, games are being ratcheted up to infinity, and all expectations should be relegated to nowhere because the robot revolution is nigh and the moment is more defined that what the future could ever be. The layers of bonkers that has wrapped itself around college lacrosse right now -- save for Maryland's decimation of everything that has the stupidity of standing in front of the Terrapins -- is the only story that matters, and it's making the arc of the 2013 season one of the most anticipated in recent memory.

Let's get to the big stories from this weekend.

Nooner Nonsense
I had to go into the office on Saturday to get some work done. Usually this is grounds for a level of anger that makes me want to get my Wii gun and hold up an ice cream truck so as to rob it of its happiness-inducing and insanity-calming chipwiches, but with the volume of streamed games available on Saturday, I was cautiously optimistic that I wouldn't make the front page of the New York Post due to a unique brand of criminal behavior. As things shook out in the early afternoon, everything delivered at maximum capacity:

  • Princeton-North Carolina: The 31 combined goals was grounds for your eyes to attempt to leap from your skull, but it was how the game was played that made this thing one of the best games of the season thus far: 67 possessions; Princeton rushing back on Carolina, erasing a 10-6 deficit late in the first half thanks to a 5-1 run that spanned the last four minutes of the first half, the full third quarter, and the first 3:14 of the fourth quarter; and an insane final 2:30 of regulation, seeing Princeton tie the game at 14, the Tigers taking the lead -- their first since the 3:02 mark of the first quarter when Princeton held a 3-2 advantage -- on a Schreiber tally with 1:41 to go, Davey Emala knotting the game at 15 with just 37 seconds remaining, and then Chad Tutton -- out of a timeout with 11 seconds left in regulation -- canning the winner from 10 yards out off a Jimmy Bitter assist with just three ticks on the timer. It was nuts, and the only way I could process the ending of the game was as so:
  • Hofstra-Notre Dame: Hofstra is quietly asserting itself as a potential national contender this year. The Pride hammered a pretty good Fairfield team a few weeks ago, dispatched Harvard -- a questionable Crimson team, for what it's worth -- with relative ease, and performed fairly well against a Princeton team that should remain among the class of the country when the calendar flips to May. On Saturday the Pride threw up a flare to let Earth know that they aren't screwing around this year and that its prior results were merely prologue for the story Hofstra intends to tell in 2013: Dropping previously unbeaten Notre Dame, at Arlotta, the Pride's 8-7 victory stands as proof that Long Island may house something it has been missing since Stony Brook's charmed run -- a destructive force. The Irish had been playing close games all year and Saturday was no different: No team led by more than two goals (and that only happened twice, an early 3-1 lead for the Pride and a late 8-6 cushion for Hofstra that the Irish ultimately could not overcome), and the lead changed three times following three ties. There are two takeaways here that are important: (1) Notre Dame played at a minus-seven possession margin against a solid opponent and still put themselves in a position to win (which tells you just how dangerous this Irish team is despite the setback); and (2) I'm not sure there are five attackmen in THUNDERDOME! better than Torin Varn.
  • Syracuse-St. John's: Things got away from the Johnnies late at PPL Park, but before Syracuse pushed out to an (eventually) insurmountable 12-10 lead over St. John's on a Derek DeJoe tally with around 10 minutes to go in regulation, this had "Game of the Day of the Week of the Year of the Century of the Prophesized by the Mayans on Cave Walls" written all over it. The game was defined by runs -- Syracuse had a three-goal run early in the first and second quarters and a four-goal run that spanned the second and early third quarter; St. John's put together a three-goal run in the second period and a huge four-goal run in the third quarter that drew the game square at eight -- but ultimately the game will be defined by JoJo Marasco's and Kieran McArdle's man-work on the day: The Syracuse midfielder went for a goal and four assists and seemingly existed as a blur with the ball in his crosse at all relevant moments in the game; McArdle was arguably more impressive than Marasco, putting up four goals and two assists (accounting for more than half of St. John's production on the day) and showing up when the Johnnies needed it most -- five of McArdle's six points either drew the Red Storm within one, knotted the score, or gave St. John's the lead. It's an important win for Syracuse, but the game really proved that the Johnnies have a talent level strong enough to keep them in contention in the Big East this season.
  • Air Force-Bellarmine: It's time to start wondering what Bellarmine has in store for the ECAC this season. I'm serious, you guys. The Knights, following their 11-10 victory over Air Force this weekend -- a game in which Bellarmine never trailed -- moved to 5-1 on the year (the lone loss to Loyola, and that was a game that saw the Knights look like the stronger team in pockets) with a handful of nice wins (including a season-opening victory against Robert Morris in Moon Township). I'm not saying that Bellarmine is among the top 20 or so teams in the country right now, but the fact that the Knights handled and survived an Air Force team that battled back from an early 6-0 hole and eventually knotted the game at eight with 4:15 left in the third quarter, kind of illustrates that Bellarmine has a special kind of destiny that may or may not end with a trip to the ECAC Tournament. Now, Air Force does have some concerns -- the loss to Marquette last week raised an eyebrow and how the Falcons played from behind all day in Louisville does make you wonder about Air Force's ceiling this season -- but the fact remains: Bellarmine is probably among the 30 strongest teams in the country, and that's something that probably deserves a certificate of achievement or something.
  • Binghamton-Delaware and Lafayette-Navy: These aren't results that shape the brightest aspects of the national picture, but they do have national implications: (1) The Blue Hens are now 2-5, a mess, hold wins against only High Point and Lafayette, and have Hofstra and Drexel on their schedule this March; (2) Binghamton is now sitting at .500 with wins in their last two -- beating Hobart and Delaware -- and only taking a square shot to the face against Cornell; (3) I have no idea what Navy wants to be this season, but their 3-3 record is the weirdest thing in Division I from 10,000 feet (a 10-9 loss to Fairfield, a 9-8 overtime loss to Georgetown, an 11-2 ass-beating at the hands of Bucknell, and the 12-11 victory over a bad Lafayette team); and (4) Lafayette's 11-10 overtime victory over Georgetown may stand at the end of the season as one of the year's weirdest upsets.

That was a hell of a way to start the day.

Virginia Plays Strongest Two-Game Losing Streak in Country, Cornell Beats Cavs, 12-11
Saturday ended the way it started: With perfect insanity.

The anticipation around the Red's visit to Charlottesville was high: Virginia, coming off a heart-breaking overtime loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome after dominating possession all day and playing below their potential, was looking to get its first mega win of the season (the Drexel win is solid, but Cornell is on a different level than the Dragons); Cornell, after running through a treasure chest of upstate New York teams -- Hobart, Binghamton, Colgate, and Canisius -- with relative ease, was looking to show the country that its unblemished record wasn't cockamamie and that the Red should be taken seriously as a Championship Weekend contender. The purpose and tension here was palpable; the charges were set at Klockner and all that was necessary for fireworks was for someone to push the plunger on the detonator.

Cornell ended the day with an 12-11 victory -- a major win for a program that is now facing a three-game stretch of Yale, Bucknell, and Pennsylvania -- but the details underlying the win makes you wonder if Virginia is cursed or if Cornell is destined to achieve what it has just missed out on over Rob Pannell's tenure in Ithaca. Despite trailing only once over the game's first 52:24 -- a 4-3 deficit at the 3:15 mark of the second quarter -- Virginia could not put Cornell away. The Red were resilient throughout, hanging around with the Cavaliers and eventually erasing a four-goal deficit (a 9-5 Virginia lead with 6:43 left in the third quarter) en route to what would be an incredible display of fortitude from both teams: A 5-1 run from Cornell from the 4:46 mark of the third quarter to the 3:21 mark of the fourth quarter (Pannell being relatively quiet in that stretch, providing only an assist on the first goal of the run) knotted the score at 10; an unassisted goal from Pannell at the 2:12 mark gave the Red its first lead since that brief moment in the second quarter; Virginia answered with less than a minute to go (of course), getting an unassisted blast from Ryan Tucker with just 39 seconds left on the clock; and it would be Cornell on the next possession -- thanks to yet another faceoff win from Doug Tesoriero (he won 14 of 23 draws on the day) and groundball pick-up by Jason Noble -- moving the ball through Pannell (without taking a timeout) and eventually finding Steve Mock on the crease for the winner with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation.

Ball game. Gatorade bath. Lacrosse remains the best.

Part II is here.

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