The Weekend in Stick is exactly what it sounds like -- a recap of all the important things that happened in the universe while you were enjoying two days of not-work. Part I features the big stories from the weekend.
There were four ranked-ranked matchup this weekend with all of the favorites -- at least according to their media poll ranking -- coming out of the cold with a win, maintaining authority over a host of dangerous if not capable opponents. The headliner of this quartet of games -- Denver and Duke's neutral site fist fight in Georgia -- felt like the kind of early season meeting that makes February lacrosse somewhat tolerable: Through three quarters, the Pioneers and Devils were locked at 11. The game vacillated in its volition, with Denver and Duke trading runs through the first 45 minutes of play: Denver pulled out to a 4-2 lead after using a four-goal surge in the later stages of the first period to erase an early Duke lead; Duke responded with a three-goal burst of its own to regain a one-goal advantage; after allowing the Pioneers a pop in the first two minutes of the second quarter, the Blue Devils rattled off three buckets to enter the half with an 8-5 lead; and the third period featured alternating scoring until the Pios exploded for a three-goal rush over the penultimate quarter's final three minutes, setting the stage for what would ultimately lead to Duke's demise.
Consecutive man-up goals from Connor Cannizzaro on helpers from Tyler Pace gave Denver a one-goal lead with 11:32 left to play in regulation. A goal from Jack Bobzien a minute later gave the Pios all the lead they would need to put away the reigning national champions, but Denver wasn't done at that point: Three more goals from the Pioneers over the next five minutes iced an otherwise momentum-fueled game that gave the scoreboard a workout. It wasn't a May-quality adventure, but considering the circumstances in which Denver met Duke, it was an exciting and worthwhile moment in an otherwise bone-chilling weekend in the Northeast. A wave of 30 goals with each team shooting over 32 percent makes life worth living, even if it isn't perfect.
The last three Drexel-Virginia duels have finished with one-goal results, one of the tighter regular season series in all of Division I lacrosse over the last few seasons. The Dragons and Cavaliers appeared destined for another razor-thin margin again in Charlottesville: With 2:05 left in the first half, a goal from Jules Raucci pulled Drexel within one of their hosts, the bucket keeping the Dragons within striking distance of the 'Hoos after Virginia rallied from an early three-goal deficit to build a small but manageable cushion. Then the Cavs straight up lost it and banged home seven of the game's next nine goals to build a six-goal lead that the Dragons would be unable to significantly erode.
This is the problem that Virginia poses to opponents: Despite playing at an estimated five-possession deficit, the Cavs registered scores on over 45 percent of their offensive opportunities and shot almost 36 percent as a team, taking advantage of an effort from the Dragons that merited Drexel goals on less than 30 percent of their offensive opportunities (the team shot less than 25 percent as a group). Even with its flaws, Virginia now owns two solid victories early in the season and are positioned well to develop into something pressing.
This wasn't a portrait of heavenly beauty: A 58-possession slog, Loyola shot 16 percent -- !!!!!!!!! -- en route to a two-goal win against a Penn State team that committed a whopping 22 -- !!!!!!!!!! -- turnovers while taking a total of 27 shots. (I don't even know how to process that fact: The Nittany Lions had only five fewer turnovers than shot attempts. 17 of those turnovers were caused by the Greyhounds, a murder-infused timeline that leaves no witnesses standing. These facts are things that exist in reality.) The victory for the 'Hounds served two purposes: (1) It pivoted Loyola nicely from its one-goal loss to Virginia last weekend; and (2) It sets Loyola up well for a painfully awkward date against Towson this week. As for Penn State, things get dicey: The Nittany Lions could slide against its next three opponents -- Villanova, Pennsylvania, and Harvard -- if the team doesn't clean up its execution.
Syracuse was all . . .
. . . and Cornell was all . . .
. . . and that's what 60 minutes of lacrosse in the Carrier Dome looked like. This game probably moves different two weeks from today, but what's left in the 2015 record is the Orange annihilating the Red.