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The Weekend in Stick: Things Happened at Places with People (Part I)

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

Jim McIsaac

Early season play generally creates unsettled results, and there was no result this weekend more "WAITASEKEND! WAITASEKEND!" worthy than High Point's upset of Towson in North Carolina on Friday night. This may or may not signal that the Panthers are ready to punch through concrete with just their fists, but the result does signal this: Things that happen at places with people and that demands your daily attention, mostly because the volatility of those things that happen can be unstable and exciting.

Here are the biggest stories from the weekend.

High Point Has the Conn, Drops Towson
More in-depth stuff on this game is coming at some point, but here's the short of the long: The Panthers waved an American flag and liberated for itself a 9-7 victory over the visiting Tigers, the first in High Point's history (and accomplished in only the program's second game). I think that bears repeating: High Point, in only its second tour of duty ever, dropped Towson -- which was quietly existing as a top 30-type team this season -- at home and, in a lot of ways, looked like a program on the move with exciting things lying ahead in the windshield. New programs just don't do what the Panthers have done the last two weeks, hanging with two established programs from THUNDERDOME!, walking away from the flaming wreck with a win in one and a hard-fought loss in the other. While Marquette dominated much of the preseason new program hype, it has been Jon Torpey's club -- located in a nontraditional area and built with a roster of "can do, must do" -- is the team with the most steam on them right now. That, in concert with the Panthers' victory, is the early storyline of the season that makes your face wrinkle into something that I'm told is a smile.

Also, through the Towson game, Dan Lomas tallied nine goals -- four came against the Tigers -- and at that point was shooting 64.3 percent on the season while also putting over 90 percent of his attempts on cage. He is a bolt-action shotgun. Good grief.

Denver Dumps Duke in Durham, 14-12
It wasn't exactly a fireworks finale to start the season, but it was close. Duke and Denver, both residing in the top 10 of the Inside Lacrosse preseason media poll, went toe-to-toe in Durham on Saturday with the Pioneers finishing the day with a big victory and the Devils retreating to the locker room to try and find some answers. In the end this is only a February game -- and there's a long way to go until May -- but Denver put into its hopper a win that could really define its NCAA Tournament resume and may prove that the Pioneers are truly a national title contender.

The turning point of the game -- and the truly dangerous aspect to what the Pioneers may be capable of in 2013 -- was the third quarter; in that period, Denver snapped and went off like a sociopath with a meat cleaver: Down 8-5, the Pioneers pumped in seven unanswered goals (on just 12 shots), limited the Devils to just five shots, dominated possession at a +4.00 margin (8-4), and only turned the ball over once while having Duke cough up the bean three times. (Duke was also whistled for five penalties in the third period, racking up all but 30 seconds of their four minutes-plus of punishment time in the quarter. Denver cashed in on two of those opportunities, the first tally keeping the Pioneers within striking distance of the Blue Devils and the second giving Denver its first lead of the game at 9-8 (a lead that wouldn't be relinquished).) Duke would claw back a bit in the fourth quarter, winning the stanza with a two-goal margin, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome the shock and awe that Denver unleashed coming out of halftime. It wasn't a complete game from either side, but Denver now has the look -- and the ammunition -- of a team that can (and will) go anywhere and throw punches with an unflinching stare.

Colgate Survives the Worst Storm in the History of Earth (Pending), Beats Bryant, 14-13 (OT)
Did you see this game? No? Then you're dead to me. Sorry.

Here's the short of the long: Jimmy Ryan, on an assist from Matt Baker, crammed home the winner with 2:09 left in overtime. Here's the long of the long: one and two goal leads in Rhode Island are totally useless and if the rules didn't require Colgate and Bryant to end their game on Ryan's tally, they'd still be playing right now (likely within a goal or two of each other). That's just the performance arc of February lacrosse; don't knock it, embrace it.

Let's back this up for a second; overtime results don't happen in a vacuum, you guys. It was back and forth all day in Smithfield, with neither team holding more than a two-goal advantage all day (there were six deadlocks throughout the day). Colgate looked as if they were going to put the game on ice with a 13-11 lead late in the fourth quarter (the goal came with 4:15 remaining in the game, and Bryant swapped out its goalies, replacing Gunnar Waldt with Tom Carey). The Bulldogs were resilient, though, getting a tally from Alex Zomerfeld with 3:00 remaining in regulation and a miraculous goal from Brian Schlansker with just eight ticks left on the clock. Overtime was its own kind of nuts, seeing Waldt return to the cage for Bryant, the Bulldogs getting the opening possession and losing the opportunity, and Colgate charging down to the other end of the field to eventually win on the tally from Ryan with just 2:09 left in the period.

It was pretty tremendous. You should've been there. February lacrosse isn't all bad.

Part II