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The Weekend in Stick: Insanity and Anarchy (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.

If the end of February is any indication of what March is going to look like, it may be wise to contract an abstract artist to document college lacrosse this season. Left was oftentimes right, up was sometimes down, and Johns Hopkins was totally Syracuse. Well, some of that isn't a lie.

Penn State Upsets Notre Dame; "Jaw Drop" Diagnosed Irish Fans
It wasn't the craziest game of the weekend, but the result was the most notable: One week after decimating Duke in Arlotta Stadium with the brute force of an armed militia hell-bent on regime change, Notre Dame fell to Penn State in overtime, 4-3. Notre Dame is the highest-ranked opponent that the Nittany Lions have dispatched in program history.

I don't think anyone that hasn't had a cement block dropped on their head in the last two months thought that Penn State would walk out of South Bend with the win, although it was expected that with its THUNDERDOME! and Tambroni-style pedigree that it would give the Irish fits. As it turned out, with a gameplan that out Notre Dame'd Notre Dame, Matt Mackrides led the way for State with two goals (including the game-winner with about two seconds left on the clock). Irish goalie John Kemp did man's work -- lifting heavy things, driving an oversized Ford pick-up truck, eating flapjacks until the mess hall was totally out of pancake mix -- registering 18 saves and saving Notre Dame's goat time and time again. Penn State's Austin Kaut was equally as manly -- eating lugnuts just for fun, buying heavy flannel shirts for formal occasions, telling people how heavy machinery works -- getting 18 of his own stops and moving the Nittany Lions in the right direction when they needed it.

The game was played at 63 total possessions, which works out to about a 59-possession regulation game. That's slow, but right in both teams' wheelhouse (especially Notre Dame). In the end, Penn State beat the Irish at its own game.

Navy Attacks and Attacks and Attacks but North Carolina Sinks Their Battleship
Honestly, I didn't even start following this one until the second quarter.

Going into Saturday, there really wasn't a need to: North Carolina had its Death Squad of Death, Navy was coming off a somewhat shocking defeat to Jacksonville the week prior, there wasn't too much heat around the Mids this year with Rick Sowell trying to get the ship righted, and, well, nobody that hadn't had a curb-stomping in the last six months thought that Navy would seriously run at the Tar Heels.

But, that was before Saturday became Saturday. Leading 6-3 at the half (!!!), Navy looked poised to register the most shocking victory of the early season. Instead, Carolina slowly clawed back, scoring four unanswered goals in the final period to escape -- and that's the only word you can really use to describe the game -- with a 9-8 victory. Thomas Wood -- in his first action of the season coming off an injury -- had four goals, including the game-winner with 1:16 left. Marcus Holman paced the Tar Heels with six points on steady play with R.J. Keenan winning 18 of 20 draws.

The schedule for North Carolina heats up, with a Lehigh-Pennsylvania-Princeton-Duke stretch in the windshield. Navy faces a wounded but resiliant Bucknell squad at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium this weekend.

Bucknell Must've Pissed Off the Wrong Guy, Falls to Villanova in Overtime
Someone buy Bucknell some balloons and give them a big ol' hug. They need it at this point.

I can't think of another team in 2012 that has gone tooth-and-nail with all of its opponents this season and doesn't have a number in the left-hand column of the record sheet for their efforts. The Bison went into Villanova on Saturday and pushed the Wildcats all the way to overtime but ultimately walked away with a hard-fought 13-12 loss. The victory gives Villanova its second victory of the season, all against Pennsylvanian schools; the loss keeps Bucknell winless on the year, with its three losses totalling a four-goal differential (two of the defeats coming in overtime).

Jack Rice was the Wildcats' hero on the night, tallying six goals. C.J. Small came up big (puns are gross) as well for Villanova, with five helpers (with only one, oddly, destined for a Rice goal). Kevin Cunningham got the game winner on a man-up in the overtime period with the assist given to Small.

After a Peter Burke goal to draw Bucknell within one with 9:07 left in the third quarter, neither team led by more than one with the scored being knotted down the stretch on five occasions. It was absolutely insanity, which, when you think about it, is the perfect way to describe the Bison's sunrise to its 2012 campaign.

Syracuse and Army Clinic Statisticians on Charting Turnovers; Orange Survive for 10-9 Victory
The game wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination (and I have a very active imagination, wondering at times if a dragon on the field would make lacrosse more interesting or more burn victim-y), but its was, at least, exciting. When the final horn sounded, Syracuse remained undefeated earning a hard-fought (and violently contested) 10-9 victory against the visiting Black Knights of Army.

Without getting into too much detail on the game, some bullet points on the efforts:

  • Army's Tim Henderson was, for much of the game, the best player on the field. He should be in strong consideration for All-America honors at the long-stick midfielder position, if not a trendy darkhouse pick for making the Tewaaration finals.
  • John Desko stuck with his goalie rotation of Matt Lerman and Dominic Lamolinara, giving Lerman the first half and Lamolinara the second. Shaking off a rough start to the second stanza, Lamolinara secured the win for the Orange with a save off the top of his helmet. He raised his arms in celebration after the skull-stop, either in joy for making the game-winning stop or in happiness for not having a concussion.
  • Syracuse's face-off unit -- a source of stabby angst among Orange fans last year -- won 16 of 22 draws. This is probably a good thing for Syracuse partisans, although understanding their love of having things to complain about, this new face-off development is likely a source of grudging acceptance.

Joe Alberici remains one of the most underrated coaches in the game and should have a Patriot League winner on his hands again.

Other notables in Part II.