You twist the knife,
Then go home and kiss your wife,
A bigger, better slice,
Is what you like.
-CAKE, "You Turn The Screws"
Let's get to the big stories from the weekend.
The field for the ACC Tournament is complete but seeding still remains an unknown. Duke, Maryland, Notre Dame, and Syracuse will challenge for the league's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament while North Carolina and Virginia will duel on the league's bridge day at PPL Park. The construct of the field for the league's championship is somewhat surprising given that three weeks ago Syracuse looked like chum in the water, Carolina appeared poised to potentially charge down the conference's top seed, and Maryland and Duke were in arguably opposite positions.
North Carolina at Syracuse: It was the Game of the Year of the Month of the Week of the Day on Earth as it Spins in the Infinite UniverseTM. The Orange and Heels shot each other in the face for over 60 minutes in the Carrier Dome, trading leads late in the game and blurring reality in a way that few games are capable of achieving. Syracuse never led until Billy Ward's game-winning goal 1:03 seconds into the second overtime, but it was the build-up to the final tally that ultimately defined the game:
- Scott Loy's goal with 11 seconds remaining in the third quarter drew the Orange even with Carolina for the first time since the game's opening face-off. From that point forward, no team lead by more than a goal, there were three ties, and there were three lead changes (until, of course, Ward's bullet at in the second extra period). It took almost 45 minutes for Syracuse to look like the Tar Heels' equal, and the final 20:03 was an impressive display of two elite teams finding their way through a hyper-pressurized situation.
- Syracuse's offense, which scored on only 15 percent of its offensive opportunities in the first half, scored on about 31 percent of their offensive opportunities in the second half and through overtime. Kieran Burke was a horse for the Heels in the cage, but the Orange were able to create momentum where none existed in the game's first 30 minutes of play.
- Kevin Rice's goal with 8.4 seconds left in regulation -- a possession that inured to Syracuse after North Carolina suffered through a timer-on violation -- was a highlight-worthy laser that was generated from Rice's indomitable will, but it was his pass to Dylan Donahue with a tick left on the clock in regulation that almost made him a Syracuse legend. Syracuse won the draw after Rice's game-tying goal and Daddio pushed the ball to Rice in the far left wing; Rice then whipped to the ball to a streaking Donahue who wasn't able to get the ball past Burke despite getting his stick on the bean (a push from behind may have altered Donahue's ability to re-direct the pass from Rice). It was almost a two-goal run from the Orange in eight seconds, and if Syracuse hadn't elbowed out a win, it could have defined the Orange's 2014 campaign.
- The goalkeeping in the overtimes was absurd. Burke and Bobby Wardwell proved that unconsciousness is an interesting way to go through life when accepting that the reality around you makes you want to sit in a hammock and pretend that nothing is actually happening.
- Duke at Virginia: Duke has now won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the two schools, a streak that is crazy considering this fact: Virginia has more national championships (two (2006 and 2011)) than wins against Duke (one) since 2005. A three-goal run late in the fourth quarter -- from the 3:45 mark of the final period to the 2:29 mark of the last quarter -- kept the final margin respectable (two of the goals were in man-up postures), but the Devils' win continues an impressive stretch of play through the most difficult lacrosse league ever created. The Devils are plus-31 in scoring aggregate in ACC play and are plus-34 in its last three league dates (against Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Virginia). Duke is scary, freaky good in scary, freaky ways. The Blue Devils aren't perfect, but they're playing like a team that could find a way to blow Neil deGrasse Tyson's mind in the right circumstances.
- Maryland at Johns Hopkins: It was the 111th meeting between the two schools and it felt like the Blue Jays could have scored 111 goals against the Terrapins if allowed to do so. Maryland laid a prodigious egg a week before Easter, a performance that looked nothing like the team's start to its 2014 season. At the other end of the spectrum, Hopkins looked every bit the horse that the Jays' showed flashes of over the course of the year, utilizing (1) an efficient and effective offensive approach that made Maryland's defense an abstract recreation of the Terps' defensive ability, and (2) a defense that rendered Maryland's young offense a predominantly useless concern. The final spread on the scoreboard doesn't do justice to the beating that Johns Hopkins put on their rivals, but an advanced box score does the trick:
|Raw Offensive Efficiency||20.00||44.00|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||19.35%||34.38%|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.03||1.28|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||56.67||36.00|
|Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Total Possessions||18.18||43.64|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||36.00||40.00|
|Team Save Percentage||45.00%||66.67%|
Penn State 8, Lafayette 1
Whether you call it offensive futility or defensive strength, Penn State almost put together a shutout against Towson this past weekend. Division I lacrosse hasn't seen a shutout since Johns Hopkins blanked Manhattan on March 6, 2012 (Lehigh also shutout the Jaspers that season), but the Nittany Lions attempted to keep a clean sheet against the Tigers. A Mike Lynch goal with 54 seconds remaining in regulation ultimately tarnished a near-perfect defensive effort from the Lions, but that doesn't erase Towson's inability to muster any heat against Penn State:
|Offensive Opportunities||22||Pretty icky!|
|Raw Offensive Efficiency||4.55||ICKY!|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||4.35%||OH MY GOD THAT'S ICKY!|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.05||Icky because they shot OH MY GOD THAT'S ICKY!|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||54.55||ICKY!|
|Assists Per 100 Offensive Opportunities||0.00||ICKY!|
|Saves per 100 Offensive Opportunities||50.00||ICKY!|
|Opponent Save Percentage||91.67%||[DEAD ICKY!]|
Five of the Ivy League's seven teams were in grind-it-out overtime machines this weekend. Two of those games impacted the Ivy standings -- Yale moved to 3-2 on the season and made Brown's path to the conference tournament almost impossible while Penn defeated Harvard to give the Crimson their first league loss on the year -- while another -- Cornell falling to Hofstra on Long Island -- changed the shape of the Red's season.
- Harvard at Pennsylvania: The Quakers used a two-goal run over the final 4:03 of play to knot the game at seven. Penn's game-tying goal was partially attributable to Harvard giving the Quakers the chance to push the game in Pennsylvania's favor: With under a minute left, Harvard blew an offensive possession with an unforced turnover; the Crimson then took a defensive offside penalty (I don't even know, either), allowing Drew Belinsky to cash in on a man-up goal with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. The Quakers were dead and Harvard gave Penn life, falling into an old habit that hurt the Crimson last season. Harvard wasn't through, though, giving the Quakers extra opportunities: Harvard won the opening draw of overtime and promptly gave the ball back to Penn with another unforced turnover (the Crimson had 11 unforced giveaways on the day); Belinsky corralled the bean and raced the other way in an unsettled situation; Belinsky fed Zack Losco on the crease and Losco moved the ball to Kevin Brown on the left post for the winning bouncer. Three avoidable situations let the Quakers pull out a game that the Crimson could have salted away.
Yale at Brown: It was a tale of two halves: The Elis dominated the first 30 minutes of the game, building a seemingly commanding 6-2 lead; Bruno controlled the second half, holding Yale scoreless and scoring four goals to knot the game at six at the end of regulation.
TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE: YALE-BROWN METRIC YALE (FIRST HALF) BROWN (FIRST HALF) YALE (SECOND HALF) BROWN (SECOND HALF) Offensive Opportunities 13 10 15 17 Raw Offensive Efficiency 46.15 20.00 0.00 23.53 Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 35.29% 16.67% 0.00% 15.38% Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.31 1.20 1.00 1.53 Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 46.15 90.00 53.33 75.59 Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Total Possessions 34.78 47.83 37.50 50.00 Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 40.00 23.08 35.29 46.67 Team Save Percentage 66.67% 33.33% 60.00% 100.00%
- Cornell at Hofstra: Everything went sideways in the fourth quarter at Shuart Stadium. Down three goals at the start of the final period, Cornell strung together five unanswered goals to turn their deficit into a two-goal lead. The spurt -- the Red's calling card for much of the season -- came in a 4:23 stretch, an assault lead by Joe Paoletta and John Edmonds (each had two goals in the push). Hofstra would respond, however, with a two-goal run in a 2:16 stretch that tied the game at nine with 1:06 to play. The overtime period was odd, with Hofstra winning the draw, Cornell earning possession on a turnover, and Lance Yapor getting the ball back for the Pride; Mike Malave then quickly converted for Hofstra just 44 seconds into the extra session. The functional aspects of the game are less interesting than the consequence: Hofstra is now 9-3 on the season and in the driver's seat in THUNDERDOME!; Cornell has now lost three consecutive games and, according to LaxPower, have underperformed in their last three efforts. This is the type of result that impacts a team's ceiling.