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The Weekend in Stick: Leaving the Station (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

There's a long line of cars.
And they’re trying to get through
There's no single explanation
There's no central destination

-CAKE, "Long Line of Cars"

Let's get to the big stories from the weekend.

Custer Had a Plan
Virginia 13, Richmond 12

The Spiders, in their first game ever at college lacrosse's highest level, were expected to bow to Virginia in traditional fashion for a first-year program -- painfully, but with maximum effort. Richmond, however, wasn't interested in allowing the Cavaliers their historic right as an established member of the chamber, even if it took the Spiders some time to realize their potential.

Virginia built an early 5-1 lead against Richmond, getting scoring from five different players in the game's first 12 minutes. The early start apparently disconnected some wires in the Spiders' skulls as Richmond snapped and went on a rampage over the following 33 minutes: Richmond not only erased the four-goal deficit they faced (that was sent to the deepest reaches of history after the Spiders tied the game at six with 6:25 remaining in the first half), but went on to build a three-goal lead late in the first half and were square -- the game was tied at 11 -- with just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation. Richmond took every punch that Virginia threw, and countered with hands of stone of their own. The Spiders were legitimately in a position to earn a huge upset in their first go, but it all fell apart in extraordinarily heartbreaking fashion:

Alex Hatem brought Richmond even, 11-11, on a goal assisted by Cory Palmer with 12:04 left in the game. UVa wasted no time taking the lead back for good five seconds later when Parks won the ensuing faceoff. Parks immediately found Pannell five seconds later, giving UVa the 12-11 lead. Pannell scored again on a Rob Emery helper with 7:54 left to give UVa a 13-11 lead. Richmond inched closer at 7:44 on a Michael Burns goal, but that was the game’s last score. UVa held on for the one-goal victory.

The Birth of a Network
Navy 18, VMI 5
Colgate 7, Bryant 4
Bucknell 6, Delaware 4
Lehigh 13, Marquette 6

The Patriot League's success this weekend wasn't defined by the unblemished results the conference put together. Rather, it's that the Patriot League unleashed its digital network on the lacrosse-focused planet and everyone had their brain leak out of their ears. The web-native broadcasts were exceptional, relatively devoid of the frustration that Internet streaming often brings. (Maryland had to shut down their webs stream of the Terps' soul-crushing of Mount St. Mary's due to technical issues. You hurt me so good, Internet.) It was a revelation that a major conference -- at least for lacrosse purposes -- could put together a streaming product -- for free! -- that was as strong and effective as what the Patriot League offered.

The Northeast Conference was an awesome product in 2013, simply because it provided not-terrible Internet broadcasts of virtually all of its membership’s home games. The league cornered the market on volume opportunities and likely earned at least a modicum of value in return for making its product available to the masses. With the Patriot League's pursuit in 2014, lacrosse fans have another option at their disposal to follow the game. The conference deserves serious recognition for the effort, and it should give a new and valuable platform to the league.

Denver 14, Air Force 8

It was supposed to be the game of the day. It ended up being a bloodbath.

Offensive Efficiency 46.67 24.24
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 42.42% 18.18%
Possession Margin -3 +3
"Run-of-Play" Work Rate 23.81 14.29
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 40.00 42.42
Team Save Percentage 57.89% 36.36%

The Pioneers broke open a 5-5 tie late in the second quarter with a Bailey Dodds goal, the crack that would eventually bust the dam. Counting Dodds' tally, Denver strung together nine consecutive goals from five different players (Wes Berg had four goals in the Pios' run; Jack Bobzien pitched in two goals and two assists during the surge; Jeremy Noble had a goal and three assists during the team's push) to give the Pioneers a 14-5 lead. It was utter destruction from a team that was expected to (1) experience some growing pains in their first effort of 2014 (2) struggle against a capable Air Force team.

Which, once again, raises the most important point in college lacrosse: Never, under any circumstance, bet against Bill Tierney.

71:59 at Homewood
Johns Hopkins 10, Ohio State 9 (3OT)

The first half was a brutish industrial complex of lacrosse: Hard hits that led to five penalties and a shooting performance that could be best described as alternating between the miserable and the heroically stuffed. It was an ugly 30 minutes of play, marked by moments of exceptionalism and periods of unfound potential. The second half was pure thrust, 30 minutes of play that saw Hopkins' new-look offense coalesce and Ohio State's Jesse King claim Homewood Field as his launch pad to the unknown.

The statistical detail illustrates the dichotomy between the two halves:

Pace 13 17
Possession Margin -4 +4
Offensive Efficiency 15.38 11.76
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 14.29% 9.09%
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.08 1.29
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunity 53.85 64.71
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 23.53 38.46
Team Save Percentage 66.67% 71.43%

Pace 14 21
Possession Margin -7 +7
Offensive Efficiency 50.00 33.33
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 50.00% 38.89%
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.00 0.89
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunity 28.57 33.33
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 33.33 42.86
Team Save Percentage 50.00% 46.15%

The game's overtime periods -- necessary thanks to a three-goal run from Ohio State late in the fourth quarter to knot the scoreboard at nine -- were a blend of the two halves in regulation. Part man-work, part firecracker, there were only seven total opportunities in 11:59 of supplementary action, but the play was intense. The Buckeyes controlled the balance of play in the three extra periods -- Hopkins somehow killed a one-minute slashing penalty on Jack Reilly in the second overtime and Eric Schneider came up huge for the Jays during bonus lacrosse, especially late in the second extra session -- but it would be Johns Hopkins that ultimately dictated the outcome: The Jays had all of three offensive opportunities in the three overtimes, losing the first on a disastrous turnover from Wells Stanwick, losing the second on a Ryan Brown turnover, and finally cashing in on the third thanks to a mashing hammer from Brandon Benn that fooled Greg Dutton.

It looked like Hopkins' game to win in regulation; overtime felt like Ohio State would earn a big win on the road. In the end, it was the Jays that weathered the game's varying looks and feels to earn an important victory at the sunrise of their season.

Part II is here.