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The Weekend in Stick: Winter's Tale (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

Too much carbon monoxide for me to bear.
Where's the air?
-CAKE, "Long Line of Cars"

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

Devils Damn Denver
Duke 14, Denver 10

The scoreboard was knotted at five early in the second quarter following an unassisted Jeremy Noble tally for Denver. The Pioneers were square with the Devils -- on the road -- and were going shot-for-shot with the defending national champions. Denver had already chased Kyle Turri from the crease and was poised to command a game that was working in its favor. Then things started to turn for the Pios, succumbing to Duke's unique brand of pain provision.

Following Noble's tally, Denver suffered a dead possession on their next offensive opportunity after a Luke Aaron save (Duke would get an unassisted goal from Jordan Wolf on the ensuing possession). Denver's next functional offensive possession ended with a pipe shot and a Wes Berg turnover (Duke would score less than a minute later). Denver would answer shortly thereafter on a Berg goal, but the Devils would enter the break with an 8-6 lead after a Myles Jones hammer less than a minute after the Berg blast. It wasn't over, but Duke was laying the foundation for erasing Denver from reality.

The second half statistics bear out Denver's trouble with trying to keep pace with Duke when Duke starts to act like the sociopathic serial killers that they are:

Possession Margin -9 +9
Raw Offensive Efficiency 36.36 30.00
Raw Offensive Shooting Percentage 25.00% 30.00%
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.45 1.00
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 35.00 54.55
Save Percentage 53.85% 60.00%
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 72.73 45.00

Duke will eat your soul. The Devils dominate possession -- thanks, in part, to Duke winning eight of 12 draws in the final 30 minutes of play -- and allow little margin of error for the opposition. Denver fell into this trap against the Blue Devils, and compounded their problems by committing giveaways while already in difficult circumstances. Duke is among the nation's best at titling game play in their favor, and the Devils exemplified that against a solid Pioneers team that played pretty well.

Loyola Treats Regulation as a First Offering, Beats Penn State in OT
Loyola 12, Penn State 11 (OT)

Loyola was cruising early in the fourth quarter against Penn State. The Greyhounds had built a four-goal lead with around 12 minutes left in regulation and had managed hold Penn State's offense scoreless for almost 10 minutes (the Nittany Lions were limited to just two offensive possessions in that stretch). Loyola was positioned exceedingly well for a big victory early in its 2014 campaign, the kind of win that would make the team's almost-victory against Virginia a mere footnote to its season. Then Penn State snapped.

Penn State scored four goals on seven possessions -- !!!! -- in the final 12:10 of regulation to tie the game at 11. Loyola was stunned, committing turnovers on two of its five offensive opportunities over the same stretch while also committing a handful of penalties that resulted in Penn State man-up goals. The Lions were in full-on annihilation mode while the Greyhounds were merely trying to hang on. The four-goal run from Penn State looked like all the momentum the team would need to hang another loss around the Greyhounds' neck and platform the Nittany Lions well before traveling to Notre Dame.

None of that momentum would matter, though. Loyola won the opening face-off in overtime and Nikko Pontrello beat The Blonde Satan -- Austin Kaut -- just 20 seconds into the extra period. It was an abrupt ending to a game that probably should have lasted forever, but both teams proved their resilience and strength.

Virginia-Drexel Does Virginia-Drexel Things
Virginia 11, Drexel 10

2013: Virginia 13, Drexel 12 (OT)
2012: Virginia 9, Drexel 8

Virginia and Drexel had to play a one-goal game today. It was written on the lacrosse scrolls generations ago. The Cavaliers' four-goal lead with 21:10 to play in regulation? A mere distraction that the prophesy demanded. The Dragons and 'Hoos would play a one-goal game regardless of whether the universe re-calibrated itself after the robot apocalypse.

It's Drexel's charge over the final 21:10 of play that is most notable about the game. The Dragons were invincible (sort of) in the fourth quarter last year, surging against opponents when pressure was at its peak. Drexel had a bit of that magic against Virginia, but it wasn't quite as concentrated: The Dragons cut its four-goal deficit in half in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the third period, and then found a way to scatter three goals over the first 13 minutes of the final quarter while yielding only one -- an unassisted Mark Cockerton laser show with 2:56 on the clock -- to the Cavs. It felt like this would be another "Oops! We won!" type of game for Drexel, but it wasn't to be: Cockerton would bury the game-winning goal for Virginia with just 15 seconds left in regulation (Drexel would get nothing out of a half-useful possession following the goal). The push was there for the Dragons but the result wasn't quite what Drexel experienced a season ago.

As for Virginia, the 'Hoos are now 3-0 and are a ridiculous plus-three in scoring margin on the season, winning all of their games by just a single tally. Lotto tickets, Charlottesville. Think about buying them.

Syracuse, Albany Explode Faces
Syracuse 17, Albany 16 (OT)

Forget the fact that Syracuse and Albany combined for 33 goals. Forget the fact that Syracuse and Albany outscored every game this past weekend. Ignore the fact that The Thompson Trio was beyond belief -- combining for 14 points -- and that Randy Staats is as dynamic an offensive weapon as Syracuse has had in hyper-recent seasons. Ignore the fact that Albany erased a five-goal deficit with 10:43 to play in regulation. Ignore the fact that Henry Schoonmaker netted the game winner just 22 seconds into the overtime period, burning twine and sending the Orange sideline into a fit of insanity. Ignore the fact that these two teams were able to replicate their classic from 2013 and somehow heighten the reality that they both create. Ignore the hype and that the hype was realized.

Pay attention to this: The teams combined for 93 -- !!!! -- possessions over 60:22 of play. That is bonkers. Syracuse and Albany played one of the fastest games that Division I has seen in the last few years, bolting up and down the field while keeping the scoreboard busy. It was fluid, uninhibited lacrosse. It was a style that these two teams desire to play, and putting Syracuse and Albany in the same laboratory to see what would happen when they both mashed the accelerator to the floor created something fantastic and unique.

The game was amazing not because of individual efforts or the final score or that everyone's expectations were satisfied. It was amazing because a style of the game that has been suffocated was allowed to thrive.

The Hell?
Bryant 12, Bucknell 9

The Bison -- nationally ranked and earning heat as a dark horse contender this season -- held just one lead against the underdog Bulldogs on Sunday: At the 12:24 mark of the first period when Bucknell went up 1-0. From that point on, it was all Bryant in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Possession Margin 0 (32 Possessions) 0 (32 Possessions)
Raw Offensive Efficiency 28.13 37.50
Raw Offensive Shooting Percentage 20.93% 38.71%
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.34 0.97
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 31.25 46.88
Offensive Assist Rate 6.25 28.13
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 18.75 50.00
Save Percentage 33.33% 64.00%

The formula for "Kaboom!": (1) Gunnar Waldt went nuts in the net for Bryant, turning everything away; (2) Bryant sliced Bucknell's defense into pieces, abusing the field defense before abusing the net; (3) Bucknell's offense struggled at bending the Bulldogs' defense in two; and (4) Sam Grinberg had a tough time in the crease for the Bison.

Part II is here.