I've got brakes,
I'm wide awake.
I can stop this car at any time.
At the very last second,
I can change directions,
Turn completely around if I feel so inclined.
-CAKE, "Satan is My Motor"
Let's get to the big stories from the weekend.
Lyle Thompson Goes Pointless, Albany Still Beats Hopkins 10-9
It's just about that time, pals and gal pals -- release your inhibitions in embracing the Great Danes this season for what they are and give Albany the most back-slappingly emotional man-hug in the history of history. The Great Danes entered the 2013 season with some juice as a tailwind and have, for the most part, hit their marks after spotting the landing. With an offense as potent as any in college lacrosse and a defense finding its stride a little bit -- especially with the play of Blaze Riorden between the pipes, long an issue for Albany -- the Great Danes are asserting themselves as a growing force positioned to create some issues in the NCAA Tournament (even if the team isn't without warts). Friday night at Homewood was mere affirmation of that fact, and the Great Danes' ceiling is higher now that it was in early March.
Albany was far from dominating the Jays in Baltimore, but the Great Danes never seemed to be in a position where Hopkins, at home and with a deeper roster of talent, would start to suffocate the game in their favor. Facing an early 4-2 deficit as the second quarter started, Albany rattled off the game's next two tallies -- from Jimmy Haugen and Ty Thompson -- and proceeded to play square with the Jays until early in the fourth quarter. At that point The Albany Experience focused: Pulling out to a two-goal lead with 9:41 remaining in the game (an 8-6 advantage for Albany), the Great Danes and Hopkins went ninja-kick for throwing-star-to-the-face -- a Wells Stanwick goal trimmed the lead to one (Stanwick finished with five points on the day); Ty Thompson pushed the lead back out to a two-goal margin just nine seconds after the Stanwick goal; Stanwick would come back just over a minute later with his final goal of the game with 6:57 remaining in regulation; Brandon Benn, quiet all day, evened the score at nine on an assisted tally from Lee Coppersmith with 5:05 left on the clock; and Doug Eich, on a pass from Blaze Riorden, would ram home the game-winner with 2:01 left on the ticker. It was an important victory for Albany in totem, showing resilience and competitiveness when it could have wilted late in the game.
As strong as the Great Danes played, though, the Jays didn't exactly reach their potential. Hopkins shot just 20.45 percent on the day and saw Riorden -- who is only holding a 50.9 save percentage -- turn away 20 shots. The midfield production from the Jays was once again a bit uneven, getting just four points from the unit on just 16.7 percent shooting. This was a win that the Jays desperately needed, and the offensive effort put forth against a suspect defensive team isn't the way that Hopkins needed to enter the most important stretch of its season: With Maryland, Loyola, and Army constituting three of the team's last four games (and the Jays needing a win in at least one of those games to even think about an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament), Hopkins left itself with a lot of work to get done in the next few weeks. The Jays aren't bad, but the totality of its existence right now isn't without issues.
Syracuse and Princeton Do Syracuse-Princeton Things
There was a time when you'd circle Syracuse-Princeton on the calendar and that'd be your precursor to the national championship. While Saturday at Princeton Stadium wasn't quite at that level of anticipation or play, it was pretty damn close: A 13-12 victory for the Orange (wearing gray), shaped the complexion of the national lacrosse scene and hearkened back to a time when orange and differing complementary colors earned the entirety of the nation's attention.
The game itself was bonkers -- Princeton erased an early 3-0 deficit and no team led by more than two goals the rest of the way, seeing the scoreboard knotted on five occasions -- but it was four individual efforts that became the biggest stories of the game: Princeton's Mike MacDonald and Jeff Froccaro were tactical missiles all day against Syracuse's defense, the former running past his mark on a seemingly endless basis and the latter burying the pill from all over the field in a myriad of ways; for Syracuse, it was Henry Schoonmaker's inspired play from the top of the box and beyond that set the table for JoJo Marasco to have a hand in the Orange's final three tallies (the game-winning goal and two helpers to erase a 12-10 Princeton lead with under six minutes to play), an unanswered run that ultimately decided the game. The play of that foursome was indicative of past Syracuse and Princeton greats, individual efforts that buoyed a team's momentum and defined the scope of the action.
Both teams are in strong positions as mid-April approaches and the outcome of the game doesn't mitigate or otherwise support the idea that each has Championship Weekend potential. Rather, both teams showed what makes the two programs great: The ability to turn potential into kinetic energy, and they've been doing that for the better part of 20 years.
Et Cetera and Other Super Important Things
- Lehigh 13, Colgate 10; Bucknell 9, Army 8: It all comes down to this: With both the Bison and Mountain Hawks sporting pristine 4-0 conference records, the outcome of Friday's Lehigh-Bucknell game will determine whether the Patriot League will fly its flag in Bethlehem or Lewisburg at the end of the month. Getting to this point wasn't easy for either team: Bucknell went back and forth with the Black Knights all day at Michie Stadium, never leading by more than two goals and needing Kyle Feeney to make 11 stops to hold (if that's the best way to describe it) John Glesener and Garrett Thul to just five combined points on 19 shots; Lehigh survived Peter Baum's -- KABAUM! -- four goals and Ryan Walsh's five points with sharp play from Matt Poillon between the pipes and Mike Noone's notable field play. The Patriot League remains littered with landmines, but the Bison and Mountain Hawks have navigated it with aplomb and now have their personal game of knockout to see who doesn't have to ride a bus in a few weeks.
- Georgetown 14, St. John's 13 (OT): This is almost impossible to believe, but it's true: Even when Kieran McArdle scorches earth and attempts to enact martial law where he reigns with total control, St. John's isn't necessarily a lock to win. Out in Bethpage, New York, this weekend, the Hoyas created a test case for that theory: Despite eight points from the Red Storm attackman (three goals and five assists), Georgetown dropped the Johnnies in overtime in stunning fashion. Entering the game the Hoyas were awash in troubles, sitting with only a 4-6 record and looking like the odd team out of the Big East Tournament after a mid-week loss to Villanova on The Hilltop. After Saturday, though, the Hoyas are in a surprisingly strong position to potentially steal a spot in the league's playoff: At 2-1 in Big East play and Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Rutgers remaining on the slate, Kevin Warne and Associates, Ltd. now hold what could be an important tiebreaker win, two shots at upward mobility, and the opportunity to earn another conference win against a team that is a ladder rung or two below the Hoyas at this point in the season. Georgetown isn't exactly sitting pretty, but they're better off today than they were entering the weekend. As for St. John's, bites at the apple remain with dates against Villanova and Providence.
- Cornell 14, Harvard 12: This is only part of the story, but it's a big reason that the Red are keeping time among the nation's elite:
Holy hell Cornell is tough to kill.— College Crosse (@SexyTimeLax) April 6, 2013
After rediscovering itself against Duke last week in Cambridge, Harvard came to play against arguably the nation's best team. Holding a two-goal lead against Cornell at the half, the Crimson served notice that they weren't simply going to kiss the Red's ring; the second half proved that out -- pushing out to a three-goal lead at the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter, Harvard appeared poised to pull a major upset and recalibrate its season at the most important time of the year. Alas, Cornell would exert its force on the game: Going on a four-to-one run over a 6:47 stretch of the final period, the Red would knot the score at 12 with just 3:29 remaining; from that point on it was all super good times from the Ithacats, getting the game-winning goal from Max Van Bourgondien at 2:41 and an unassisted goal from Van Bourgondien just under a minute later to give Cornell its final cushion. The Crimson proved that they could play with the nation's best and the Big Red showed poise and perseverance when it could have crumbled. The Ivy League is a beautiful snowflake, people.
- Penn State 13, Drexel 6: Welp, Drexel isn't invincible. The concern all along this season had been whether the Dragons could continue to play with deficits and still come out of the fire unscathed, and its game against the Nittany Lions this week provided an important lesson: Good competition doesn't simply erase itself just because other opponents have in the past. Drexel never led on the day and it would ultimately be the Dragons' downfall: A two-goal deficit at the half ballooned to a six goal deficit early in the fourth quarter, and things didn't improve from that point forward. The scary part of all of this is that Drexel wasn't even drowned under due to a possession deficit -- Penn State only had one more offensive possession on the day than the Dragons. The Nittany Lions simply destroyed Drexel, and there's only so much that a partially-invincible team can do to control that situation.