I spend one –- one! –- weekend away from college lacrosse and all hell breaks loose: VMI and Michigan, both entering this weekend sporting the wrong kind of perfection, took out their special emergency sledgehammers designed to create victories and smashed skulls with little compassion or empathy for their victims on the way to their first wins of the season. This is an important occasion for each school –- the Keydets entered its game with Manhattan at 0-11 and without a reason for a Gatorade bath since April 28, 2012 and Michigan was suffering through a 0-11 start to its 2013 campaign, winless since March 4, 2012 -- and Lexington and Ann Arbor celebrated the victories in grand fashion:
- Manhattan 6, VMI 10: VMI pulled out all the stops for their conquering heroes: A petting zoo –- with puppies and sheep and a guy dressed in a grizzly bear costume –- was hauled onto campus, raising the victory party’s adorableness level to almost immeasurable levels; the student marching band played a victory concert that actually didn’t consist solely of Sousa marches (I’m told that a Neil Diamond block was part of the repertoire and instead of chanting “Dah! Dah! Dah!” during “Sweet Caroline,” students barked out “V! M! I!” while standing at ease); hand to God –- a cow parachuted onto the quad where the party was happening and read a proclamation –- in perfect English –- that honored the lacrosse team for their efforts against Manhattan (the cow was later slaughtered and grilled, the best cut of meat that ever dropped -- uninvited -– from 30,000–feet with scary human qualities); and, finally, the Keydets’ leading scorer this season –- Russell East -– sneezed while keeping his eyes open. It was a crazy time, I tell you.
- St. Joseph’s 8, Michigan 11: A “Michigan Man” doesn’t celebrate victories like the general population. No, sir. A Michigan Man has an expectation for victories, the residue of which is concentrated victory. As such, Michigan –- as a team –- went to the library, pulled up all the state records on the certification of Tiger Schulmann’s MMA, Inc., and petitioned various Secretary of States to have those licenses to do business revoked as the company is “too Ohio-like.” All wore sweaters while doing so, as a true Michigan Man should.
While both teams won on Saturday, Reverse Survivor needs to crown a champion. In past seasons this hasn’t been a problem –- in 2012 Wagner was the last winless team standing after Albany beat Binghamton on March 31st to leave only the Seahawks as Division I’s backwards-perfect club; in 2011, there were co-Revere Survivor champions when Wagner and St. Joseph’s each finished the season without the impetus for victory steaks. This season, though, Michigan and VMI confused things a little bit by winning on the same day; the issue, then, comes down to timing –- which team remained winless the longest? As the box scores for each of the games don’t list the length of the game, let’s let the Twitter announcements of each team’s victory –- joyous victory! –- serve as the arbiter (note the timestamps):
What a way to send out our seven seniors! 10-6 victory over Manhattan!— VMI Lacrosse (@VMILacrosse) April 20, 2013
That’s it, people: By just 25 minutes –- are you serious?! –- VMI pulled itself out of Reverse Survivor contention and left the Wolverines as the only remaining winless team in the country. (The Wolverines, though, can take solace in the fact that they’ll more likely than not finish ahead of the Keydets in the adjusted efficiency margin rankings. So, while Michigan is technically the 2013 Reverse Survivor champion, their overall performance this season –- on the field –- will be comparatively stronger than that of VMI. (The inverse is also true for the Keydets –- while VMI will likely finish among the bottom two or three in the country in terms of that particular performance metric, the Keydets weren’t the last team to win a game this season.))
A heartfelt and true “Congratulations!” to both teams on their wins. While Reverse Survivor is merely a vehicle to (1) write some humor and (2) illustrate that many college lacrosse programs don’t have it as easy as the Syracuses, Marylands, Dukes, North Carolinas, et al. of the universe, it is often misconstrued. The players and staffs of the programs that pop up in weekly Reverse Survivor dispatches work just as hard as those that merit inclusion in weekly NCAA Tournament bracket conversations; the resolve of the programs mired in Reverse Survivor contention to come out week-in and week-out (even if they’re outmatched in every facet of play) to try and earn their first victory (if it even comes) is the soul of college lacrosse. The planet will celebrate a national champion in about a month, but what Michigan and VMI did this past weekend -– simply win -– arguably deserves more attention given what these programs had to do to get that precious victory. Again, you’re beautiful snowflakes, VMI and Michigan. Enjoy it.