"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.)
Over 90 percent of Division I was in action this weekend, and with that kind of volume it's not all that surprising that this past Saturday and Sunday -- as opposed to the extended nap time that was last weekend -- provided some serious heat. Here are the five biggest stories from your work respite.
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
If Johns Hopkins were plotting a path from Baltimore, Maryland, to Bangor, Maine, I'm pretty sure that there'd be odd stopovers in Columbus, Ohio, and an accidental trip to Nashville, Tennessee. At least that's the impression I get given the Jays' performance in their 11-10 overtime victory over former number one, Virginia.
Following a Jack Reilly goal to draw even with Virginia at six about halfway through the third quarter, all the stuff at Klockner field, I assume, got together and decided, "Let's all hit the fan!"
The Cavs and Jays then started trading blows, with Hopkins going up 8-6 early in the fourth quarter only to see Virginia draw even on consecutive goals assisted from Steele Stanwick. Johns Hopkins responded with an unassisted -- and totally ridiculous -- one-handed goal from Zach Palmer that may have impinged on the manhood of Cavaliers keeper, Rob Fortunato. It was nip-and-tuck for the most of the period until Virginia got an unassisted goal from Steele Stanwick with about four minutes to play, a tally that was relatively quickly followed by a goal by Ryan Tucker to put the Cavaliers up 10-9 with 2:44 left in regulation. It looked like Hopkins was dead; of course, they weren't. The stuff that was hitting the fan wouldn't allow it.
With two minutes remaining, the Blue Jays went man-down for a minute on a Michael Pellegrino slash; Virginia didn't capitalize and Hopkins regained possession on a nice stick check with about a minute remaining. With 44 ticks on the clock, Lee Coppersmith smartly dodged -- without a cardigan, mind you -- and rifled the ball past Fortunato to even the score at 10. Hopkins won the ensuing draw, took a timeout, and managed to commit two layers of boneheadedness: (1) Taking the ball out of the attack box to gift Virginia a possession; and (2) ran offside on the Cavaliers transition. The stuff appeared to be blowing less in the Cavaliers' general direction and more toward the Jays; Virginia, though, couldn't take advantage of the opportunity and simply burned out the clock to start the overtime period man-up.
The stuff, then, decided it was Virginia's turn to accept the smell. The Cavaliers, uncharacteristically, threw the ball away early in the possession, allowing Hopkins to clear, call a timeout, and the rest is history: An empty possession for each team resulted in John Ranagan pulling off a nifty inside dodge and getting the game winner.
Johns Hopkins remains undefeated on the season and looks like a legitimate Memorial Monday threat. Virginia still appears to be among the class of the country, but the slate doesn't get any easier: a three-game stretch against Maryland, Carolina, and Duke face the Cavaliers in a two-week stretch, followed immediately by the ACC Tournament. Good luck and godspeed.
Villanova Gives Syracuse First Ever Big East Loss
Coming into Sunday, Villanova hadn't beat a school not located in Pennsylvania yet this season; Syracuse had never lost a Big East lacrosse game. Leaving Sunday, neither of those things are true.
With the Wildcats' 11-10 victory over the Orange in the Carrier Dome, the world is a little different today than it was entering the weekend. In a game where neither team was able to definitively put the other away (the score was knotted six times on the carpet), Villanova ultimately proved the stronger Big East contender, building a two-goal cushion early the fourth quarter (a lead that Syracuse would not be able to overcome). Jack Rice was a hammer for Villanova on the day, accounting for four points; Tom Palasek was an unwilling nail for Syracuse, pitching in four of his own points for the home team.
Syracuse is now mired in what could be a tournament-defining run: The Orange's next three games are against Duke, Princeton, and Cornell (three teams that are playing much more non-knucklehead lacrosse these days compared to the 11-time national champion). With a potential 4-6 record in mid-April, Syracuse would need a miracle akin to my alma mater granting me a degree to put themselves into a position to grab an at-large selection. These are crazy times up in Central New York. Please monitor the local emergency broadcast networks for information relating to rioting and how it may impact your commute.
Princeton and Yale Attempt to Play Forever; Princeton Ruins it with Winner in Fifth Overtime
Alex Capretta is such a selfish jerkface. Apparently he didn't get the memo that when you try to set records, you put them so far out of reach that nobody is ever going to touch them. Alas, the great white whale of a 12-overtime game still exists in the ether.
In the longest game that Yale or Princeton have ever played, the senior attack -- who had been trading runs with Forrest Sonnenfeldt throughout the day -- took a beauty of a pass from Tucker Shanley who had drawn the slide and slung the ball past Jack Meyer for the winner with about 2:40 left in the fifth overtime period. It was over 78 minutes of nip-and-tuck lacrosse with Yale's heart being ripped clear out of their chest in the most egregious form of amateur surgery ever undertaken.
The story of the game -- despite its length -- was how Yale took every punch that Princeton threw and responded in kind: After taking a 1-0 lead to start the game, the Bulldogs never led again despite rallying from two three-goal deficits and numerous two-goal holes. Yale is starting to look like a solid three-seed in the Ivy League Tournament and could even threaten Princeton for the second spot should the Tigers stumble. The middle of the conference is an exciting muck of "pretty decent; I'd take her out for drinks," which is a nice change of pace from last year's "Cornell is king and the peasants shall serve them a feast!"
North Carolina Beats Maryland; FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!
Let's just get this out of the way at the top: Maryland's Kevin Cooper shouldn't have decked Carolina's Greg McBride like a coward with a tire iron outside of a Sadie Hawkins dance; McBride probably should've held his emotions in check, but when your head is being used as a pinata, that can be a little difficult. The ejections of both players were warranted, and any further punishment that is leveled against each -- Cooper has already been suspended for the Terrapins' next game and McBride's suspension should be announced shortly -- is in-line with the acts.
Now, stuff that is actually about the game: I didn't think it'd be possible for the ACC to look any murkier than it does right now. With the Heels' 11-10 victory at Fetzer Field, Duke, Maryland, and North Carolina are all tied at 1-1 in the league. (Duke beat Carolina; Maryland beat Duke; and North Carolina beat Maryland.) With Virginia having not even started its league schedule yet, there are all kinds of possibilities that everyone finishes the short slate bunched up in a mess that looks like the competition field at the final horn of a demolition derby.
That's just adorable.
The story for North Carolina on the day was its late fourth quarter rally: Down 8-6 early in the final period, the Heels clawed back for the victory, keyed in part by two goals from Thomas Wood (his first in the stretch put the Heels up 9-8 with just over nine minutes to play; his second was the functional game-winner with just over two minutes to play in regulation which put the Heels up 11-9 (a lead that wouldn't be relinquished)). The win helps Carolina stabilize its post-season aspirations, pushing its record to 7-3 with games against Hopkins, Virginia, and Hofstra on the immediate horizon. The Terrapins slip to 5-2 on the year with some big scalps still upcoming: Virginia next weekend and the Blue Jays in mid-April.
Navy Beats Colgate; Patriot League Officially Bonkers
Quick! Answer this question: Who's going to win the Patriot League in 2012?
Did you answer "Anybody except Lafayette and Holy Cross"? Yes? Good. Then I don't need to take you to the hospital for a CAT scan to see if your brain is still in your head instead of accidentally leaking out of your ears last night while you slept.
The Midshipmen cruised on up to Hamilton, New York, and kind of shocked Colgate with a 12-11 victory over the Raiders. Sam Jones gets a gold star on his uniform for his game-winner with just 3.2 seconds left in regulation, sealing the victory for Navy and helping his team to their fourth victory in a row. Rick Sowell wasn't given the captainship of a Navy destroyer after the win, which is disappointing considering the fact that his new title is "Admiral-in-Charge (Winning Lacrosse Games)."
Colgate got solid production from Peter Baum, Ryan Walsh, and Rob Grabher, but their combined nine points couldn't overcome Jones' man-work performance of three goals and two helpers. The Raiders won the possession battle on the day -- 35-33 -- including dominating at the dot (19-8), but the Mids never wilted, buoyed in part by R.J. Wickham's 12-save performance in the net.
It's a crazy place, that Patriot League, and Navy is in a surprisingly solid position with a 3-1 record with only two games left to play in the league -- against one-loss Lehigh (undefeated in conference play) and stumbling Army. Colgate still gets big league opportunities against Bucknell and Lehigh in the coming weeks.