We're going to do our weekly recaps a little differently this season, but until all leagues are up and running, we'll fire up the ol' Weekend in Stick feature to get us down the road.
The Big Stories
Both the Orange and Blue Jays are expected to run with high ceilings in 2015. With each program returning a notable volume of contributors from last spring, each entered the season in the nation's top 10, positioned dangerously to assert strength over the rest of the nation. Facing two capable but flawed teams on their respective home fields, the weekend offered both Syracuse and Johns Hopkins an opportunity to get in a sweat at the sunrise of the season that could platform each program well, setting the stage for each team to mash the throttle and create some genuine early-season momentum. That's exactly what happened under the Carrier Dome's roof and at hallowed Homewood Field.
The Jays wasted no time putting the hurt on the Retrievers, building a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter that UMBC could not erode over the ensuing 45 minutes of play. Hopkins led UMBC by as many as 12 late in the fourth quarter, never having its cushion deflated under 10 goals after a Cody Radziewicz bucket at the 9:19 mark of the third period. It was a full-fledged ass-beating in Baltimore, one that saw Ryan Brown deposit seven goals on 14 shots while Shack Stanwick chipped in a 3-1 effort in his collegiate debut. It was as complete an opening effort as the Blue Jays could have asked for, especially against a regional opponent that had motivation to bag a big kill.
At the Carrier Dome, Syracuse unleashed the full force of its armament, putting 21 beans on the board while shooting 42 percent as a team. Kevin Rice's six-point day further entrenched the attackman's value to the Syracuse offense and Hakeem Lecky showed an ability to vary his offensive skills with a four-assist performance that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Ben Williams had an exceptional day at the dot for the Orange, corralling 17 of the 20 draws that he took, but even an average day from Williams likely would have seen Syracuse walk away from its opener with a double-digit victory: The Orange scored on over 42 percent of their estimated offensive opportunities while holding Siena to generating scores on only about 25 percent of their offensive possessions. Things accelerate for Syracuse this coming week when the Orange host Cornell in a huge Sunday brawl.
Down 0-2 early in the second quarter, Marquette rallied for three-straight goals, those tallies giving the Eagles a lead the team would not relinquish en route to the program's first victory over a ranked team. A Dan Taylor goal with 5:47 remaining in regulation drew the Mountain Hawks within one, but a man-up goal from Kyle White just 40-ish seconds after Taylor's bucket would give Marquette the advantage it would not lose the rest of the way. The win is a major milestone for Marquette's third-year program, one in which it is partly measured against High Point in the context of growth and maturity (the Panthers fell in heartbreaking fashion to Duke over the weekend). Joe Amplo is building something sustainable in the Upper Midwest, and even if the Eagles fail to pivot in sophisticated ways from this win, it still stands as a valuable moment for a team that is still finding its place in Division I lacrosse.
In Detroit at Ultimate Soccer Arenas -- that's a real place that exists! -- the Titans earned the most surprising result of the weekend, dropping Ohio State in one-goal fashion. Jesse King -- the Buckeyes' offensive combustion point -- was held to two points and six shots while Detroit got scoring from eight different players, leveraging offensive burden throughout the roster that also merited the Titans six helpers on the team's nine goals. Sloppiness was a factor in the game -- Ohio State committed giveaways on about 49 percent of the team's offensive opportunities while Detroit committed turnovers on about 43 percent of their offensive possessions -- but Jason Weber may have been the game's biggest factor: The Detroit keeper held a 63.64 save percentage and made stops on about 36 percent of the Titans' defensive opportunities, anchoring a defense that had to contend with a possession margin disadvantage estimated at nine opportunities. That's straight toxic.
Virginia Tops Loyola in Wild Fashion (Again)
Virginia 13, Loyola 12
Loyola and Virginia created small explosions in February for the second season in a row. Determined to match the insanity of the teams' meeting a season ago in Charlottesville -- a one-goal overtime victory for the 'Hoos, even if it did come in controversial fashion -- the 'Hounds and Cavaliers staged an early season beauty at a packed Ridley Athletic Complex.
The first half was as tight as a Buddy Rich solo, the teams entered the intermission locked at six after no team was able to build more than a one-goal lead in the first 30 minutes of play. The second half started to tilt toward Virginia, though, after the Cavs went on a four-goal run over the first 8:28 of the third period, building a 10-6 lead. In true Loyola fashion, the Greyhounds uncorked a vicious run of bloodlust, scoring five of the game's next seven goals in a 17-minute stretch that saw Loyola pull within one -- 11-12 -- with 4:30 left in regulation. Alternating goals from Virginia and Loyola left the margin at one when things took a characteristic turn for the bonkers: Graham Savio won a draw with 2:04 left on the clock, giving the 'Hounds a chance to knot the scoreboard; after two wide shots, a Nikko Pontrello turnover with 29 seconds remaining seemed to sink the 'Hounds, but a furious ride from Loyola earned the ball back; a quick turnover from Mike Kutzer gave Virginia possession, but Loyola -- once again! -- rode its way back into possession; and with little time to make anything happen, the Greyhounds were unable to get a final shot off as the clock bled into nothingness.
It's only February.
The Not So Big Stories
Boston University didn't waste any time earning their first victory of the 2015 season, shellacking Mercer to the tune of an 18-6 win; the game was relocated to Harvard's bubble, which sounds like a fancy way of saying the game was played on a yacht in a biodome; Jack Wilson had five goals for the Terriers . . . Stony Brook bashed in Manhattan's skull in a 19-3 win; Challen Rogers went 4-and-2 for the Seawolves and two other players -- Brody Eastwood and Alex Corpolongo -- each had four goals for Stony Brook; the Seawolves have an important date against St. John's coming up this weekend . . . Rutgers opened its campaign with a solid 10-8 victory against St. John's; the Scarlet Knights rallied from a three-goal hole in the third quarter to score six of the game's final seven goals; Christian Trasolini had four goals and a helper on 11 shots with no turnovers to pace Rutgers . . . Bellarmine traveled north to face Michigan and the Wolverines acted as despicable hosts, using a 7-1 run in the third quarter to earn a 16-9 win; the Knights aren't going to scorch earth this season, but that's still an impressive victory for the Wolverines to start their campaign; Michigan had two players register at least four goals . . . Richmond quietly disposed of St. Joseph's in Robins Stadium; the Spiders' 9-5 triumph may take a little bit of the shine off of the diamond that the Hawks were showing everyone in the preseason; in a related story, crazy stuff happens sometimes . . . Delaware erased the memories of a pathetic first quarter and stormed back to squeeze past Bucknell, 12-11; the Bison played without David Dickson, one of the team's most important offensive weapons; Conor Peaks went only 15 minutes for the Hens, which is somewhat concerning for the team . . . Army earned its 750th win in a 12-7 victory against Massachusetts; a 4-0 third quarter run defined the game for the Cadets; John Glesener had four points for the Black Knights in his pursuit of Tewaaraton recognition . . . Colgate muscled past Bryant in snowy Rhode Island in a 9-5 win; I don't know what this means about Colgate or Bryant; Kevin Massa won a mess of faceoffs, but as has been written a million times, simply winning a draw doesn't make the scoreboard blink . . . Penn State beat Vermont, 15-8; T.J. Sanders showed his disdain for American-made maple syrup and put up three goals against an assist; the Catamounts made the game somewhat interesting midway through the third quarter, but a four-goal run from the Nittany Lions blew Vermont into outer space . . . Duke beat High Point in an exceptionally entertaining 16-13 victory; Myles Jones is a big, strong man that does big, strong things, but Dan Lomas and Matt Thistle were not amused -- the duo combined for seven points against the Devils' depleted defense; High Point is going to have a fun show to watch as the season progresses . . . It was tight early, but Duke eventually put the hammer down against Air Force in a 13-7 victory; the Devils were not especially concrete on the defensive end, and this could cause trouble against Denver on Saturday; Doug Gouchoe had 13 solid stops for the Falcons . . . Carolina destroyed Furman, 19-4; let's pretend this game didn't happen . . . Navy unloaded a lashing on VMI in a 21-7 victory; like the Tar Heels' exploitation of the Paladins, this result isn't necessarily one that harbors strong assumptions about the future.
Pummeling and Pummeling
- Backstop Circus: Mike Nugent (15, Mercer); Benny Pugh (15, Richmond); Connor Darcey (15, Penn State); Austin Geisler (18, High Point). High honors this week go to Geisler for almost stopping Duke and surviving to tell the tale.
- Five-Goal Club and More: Jack Wilson (5, Boston University); Ryan Brown (7, Johns Hopkins); Justin Guterding (6, Duke).
- The Power Plant: Double Digit Point Generation: None. Lazy bums. (Patrick Keena had nine points on two goals and seven assists. He came close to spinning the earth into the sun.)
- The Lyle Thompson Prism of Doom Award: Let's go with Brown. His seven buckets on 50 percent shooting was probably the most impressive individual performance of the weekend. (Lyle Thompson did not play this weekend. His time to ruin souls is coming.)