It's coming down.
-CAKE, "It's Coming Down"
Let's get to the big stories from the weekend.
The 1:00 Electric Bugaloo
There were 25 games on Saturday but the majority -- 13 to be exact -- of those were set for a 1:00 face-off. That isn't unusual for a college lacrosse Saturday, but how the 1:00 window shook out this past Saturday made it unique. The general thrust of a volume window is that a handful of stinkers accompany a handful of decent games and a couple of hyper-interesting games. On Saturday, that trend was shattered into a million pieces as seven of the window's 13 games went haywire, all with important consequences:
- Denver 13, Loyola 12 (OT): Denver didn't lock up at least a share of the ECAC regular season title or the top seed in the league tournament, but with its win over Loyola the Pioneers inched closer to accomplishing both: Behind four-point performances from Eric Adamson, Wes Berg, and Cam Flint, Denver managed to slip past the Greyhounds in Baltimore after a furious comeback from the game's host. The Pioneers looked as if they were going to put the game away from the outset, leading 4-1 after the first quarter and 8-3 at the half. Loyola looked lost defensively and Denver was shredding faces while managing the bean just as they had all season. Then the Greyhounds woke up: a three-goal run over the final four minutes of the third period drew Loyola within two and a three-goal run over the final 6:29 of regulation knotted the score at 12 with 2:11 left to play. The Greyhounds had all the momentum going in their favor, but Cam Flint would put the nail in Loyola's coffin with a nifty unassisted goal just 16 seconds into overtime. Flint's winner marks Denver's fourth overtime win this season and second in as many games. The two teams look poised to meet again in the ECAC Tournament and Earth, if it has a sense of balance, will spin that situation into a reality.
- Hobart 9, Bellarmine 8 (2OT): The Knights have become a hot commodity in college lacrosse this season for what they've been able to accomplish compared to their profile in 2012, but the program's narrative in 2013 isn't one of only rainbows and gum drops falling from the sky: Bellarmine is, in many ways, also an exercise in tragedy. After its loss to Hobart at home, the Knights are 7-4 on the season with all of its losses occurring in ECAC play. Bellarmine's largest margin of defeat in these games has been by two goals (an 8-6 loss to Loyola, a game in which the Knights looked like the stronger team for various stretches of play, and a 9-7 defeat at the hands of Ohio State, a script that mimicked the Knights' effort against the Greyhounds); its last two losses -- including Saturday's game against the Statesmen -- have both been double overtime affairs, the first coming against Denver (another game wherein Bellarmine played well enough to win but eventually succumbed to their opponent). Despite all of Bellarmine's efforts this season, the Knights are now facing a situation where it may not even make the ECAC Tournament: The league's race for the top four positions on the table is incredibly unstable, and with Bellarmine's conference season done and in the books, all the Knights can do at this point is hope that Ohio State, Hobart, and Fairfield falter down the stretch so that they can back-door their way to Geneva for an opportunity to earn the conference's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament. It has been a great season for Kentucky's only Division I team, but Bellarmine's performances this season are also wrapped in a degree of woe.
- Princeton 9, Dartmouth 10: There's no way to sugarcoat this -- Princeton's loss to Dartmouth in New Hampshire was a nuclear bomb detonated at the hydrogen bomb plant. It's not just that the Tigers lost a game to a significantly overmatched opponent (this is a Big Green team that entered the game on the heels of an 8-7 loss to Hartford), or that the loss is going to hurt the Tigers' NCAA Tournament resume, or even that the result screwed up the narrative in the Ivy League that the team with its primary color closest to to the color of blood always wins. Rather, the issue is that the loss throws Princeton into the mayhem that is the middle of the Ivy League. Had the Tigers handled business at Camp Dartmouth this weekend, Princeton had an outside shot at earning the league's top seed in the conference tournament should it have beaten Cornell in the team's final game of the season (each, presumably, finishing the year with identical 5-1 league marks). Now? The Tigers sit a half-game behind Yale on the table (Princeton holds a head-to-head win against the Elis), are square with Harvard (the two teams meet on Friday), and are a half-game ahead of Pennsylvania (the Quakers own a head-to-head win against Princeton). It's a difficult situation that the Tigers now face in a chaotic league, and it's mostly attributable to Princeton blowing the 8-5 lead it had against the Big Green early in the third quarter, resulting in Dartmouth using a 5-1 run over the final 21:43 of play to earn the victory.
- Drexel 15, Massachusetts 14: The Minutemen aren't mathematically eliminated from the THUNDERDOME! Tournament yet -- Massachusetts still has dates with Hofstra and Delaware remaining, and if (1) the Minutemen win those two games and (2) the Pride and Blue Hens lose their other remaining THUNDERDOME! dates against Penn State, Massachusetts could grab the tournament's fourth seed (crazy, right?) -- but the Minutemen are staring at a bleak situation. At 0-4 in America's Flamethrower-and-Throwing-Star ConferenceTM, Massachusetts has been one of the most disappointing teams in the nation this season after the effort it put together a year ago. It hasn't been for a lack of trying to reverse its situation, though, and Saturday's game against the once again potentially-invincible Dragons was a microcosm of that: The Minutemen fought Drexel with aplomb from the opening whistle and only faltered when the Dragons did what they do better than anybody else in the country -- own the fourth quarter and prove that period-possession with strong unanswered scoring runs in the quarter. It's probably not fair to say that Massachusetts' season potentially died when Drexel used a three-goal run over about an eight minute span in the fourth quarter (a run that was preceded by a 13-12 Minutemen lead), but it's a big part of the reason that Massachusetts is now in an especially dire position if it hopes to receive an invitation to THUNDERDOME!'s most violent party.
- Pennsylvania 7, Harvard 8 (OT): It'd be a lie to call Harvard one of the hottest teams in the country -- the Crimson are just 2-2 over their last four games -- but since Albany annihilated the Crimson on March 26th, Harvard has started to figure things out a little bit: a 12-11 setback against Duke in Cambridge indicated that the Crimson weren't giving up on their season; a 14-12 loss to Cornell (a game in which Harvard looked every bit the competitive equal to the Red until late) created a sense that the Crimson may be finding their stride at the right time of the season; the 18-8 demolition of Quinnipiac emboldened the notion that Harvard was becoming a hell-raiser; and Saturday's overtime win against a solid Pennsylvania team has put the Crimson on the map as an Ivy League threat with games remaining against Princeton and Yale. Harvard has had the talent, but it has been a matter of getting that talent to find its way (especially in the wake of Daniel Eipp's season-ending injury). The Crimson have become a story by simply being a non-story early in the year, and with a 2-2 conference record and 6-6 overall mark, Harvard has the opportunity to salvage a season that meandered through the early portion of its campaign.
- Towson 8, Penn State 10: Skepticism around what Shawn Nadelen actually had on his hands at Towson this season was fairly reasonable ahead of the Tigers game against Penn State. Towson's unblemished THUNDERDOME! record had been built upon two tight wins (7-6 victories over Delaware and Hofstra, the former coming in overtime) and a smashing of a reeling Massachusetts team. After Saturday, though, the Tigers may have the juice necessary to earn its first NCAA Tournament invitation since 2007 as THUNDERDOME!'s representative. Towson only held a lead against the surging Nittany Lions on two occasions -- a 2-1 lead at the 4:55 mark of the first quarter and a 3-2 advantage at 5:32 of the second period -- but Penn State -- a team that has made a living at suffocating opponents over its current seven-game winning streak -- was never able to pull away from the Tigers on the afternoon. Towson continually battled back from deficits that looked like kill shots, pulling to within 8-6 in the fourth quarter after trailing 8-4 in the third, and coming within two goals with 10:07 to play after falling behind 9-6 early in the final period. Had Penn State not used a four-goal run from the 3:28 mark of the second quarter to the 8:34 mark of the third period (a run that put the Lions up 6-3), the Tigers may have been able to pull a huge victory out of situation that many questioned whether it could survive (over the last 22:14 of play, the Tigers actually outscored the Nittany Lions by a 5-4 margin). It's a tough loss for the Tigers to swallow -- and a good win for Penn State to celebrate -- but it did prove that Towson has the ability to potentially turn THUNDERDOME! into its playground.
- Rutgers 11, Syracuse 12: The Orange were dead. Against an improved but still maturing Rutgers team, Brian Brecht's Scarlet Knights appeared to have shoved Syracuse into ex-existence on the back of a Rutgers offensive explosion that shredded one of the nation's strongest defenses to nothingness. Then, as if Slugger Simmons summoned it himself, the Carrier Dome exhibited its magic: Trailing 10-5 at the start of the fourth quarter, Syracuse went on a five-goal run over 7:26 of play to knot the score at 10; Luke Cometti led the Orange charge over that stretch, scoring four goals (the first two were assisted by JoJo Marasco) and almost single-handedly erasing any thoughts of Rutgers earning its biggest victory since a 10-8 victory over Notre Dame in 2010. The Scarlet Knights wouldn't retreat, though, getting a goal from Anthony Terranova (off of a terrible Syracuse turnover) with just 5:40 to play. Derek Maltz would answer with the game-tying goal on a Marasco assist just over three minutes later, but his heroics were far from complete at that point: With the game appearing as if it was headed for overtime, Marasco ran hard on a ride, dove and stripped Andrew Parrilla -- who was breaking toward the goal -- of the ball; Brian Megill snapped up the loose ball and streaked back toward Syracuse's offensive end; after moving the ball into the zone, Megill dropped a pass to Maltz -- standing in the middle of the field -- and Syracuse's big crease attack would bury the ball past Kris Alleyne with just 10 seconds remaining in regulation. It wasn't the Syracuse-Cornell ending from the national championship a few years back, but it was the defining game in a game window that was anything but normal.
Hopkins Beats Maryland, Potentially Cheats Death
It takes a special kind of weekend when the result of Johns Hopkins-Maryland only appears as a minor note. Yet, that's exactly what has happened: The Blue Jays went into College Park, played an incredibly boring game, and walked out with a 7-4 victory and its NCAA Tournament hopes still somewhat intact. The Jays are now 7-4 on the season with a huge stuffed bear head on the wall, but if Hopkins wants assurance that they'll have a May adventure, wins against Loyola on the 27th and Army on May 3rd are an absolute must. Hopkins is in better shape today than they were entering the weekend, but the Jays aren't concretely in the field at this point.