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 thoughts on the big stories from the weekend.
There were four Patriot League conference games this past weekend and three road teams -- Army, Colgate, and Lehigh -- earned victories. If that seems weird it's important to remember that you're thinking about the Patriot League in 2015 and, therefore, all accepted norms in the human experience have been rocketed into the sun for swift disposal. Home teams are an incredible 10-14 -- !!!!!!!!! -- in Patriot League conference games this season, road teams winning almost 60 percent of their dates against league rivals. This conference has lost its damn mind and is affirmatively attempting to spin sideways until its lateral movement somehow turns into a vertical trajectory. There is only one Patriot League and it has embraced its layered degrees of bonkers.
Reminder: Super Teams are Dead
The era of the Super Team is dead and has been since Virginia rolled through the 2006 season with an angry rage, decimating teams across the Division I landscape. The rhetoric that surrounded Syracuse over the last few weeks was one that spit at the idea that an impossibly dominant team could still serve as an apex predator in the lacrosse ecosystem, and Notre Dame -- a worthy and capable national title contender -- rammed home the fact that the Super Team is extinct. There is still the possibility that a team could run the table in Division I, but a rush of that nature is more likely to look like Johns Hopkins' 2005 season -- a year that saw the Blue Jays go 16-0 with nine victories of three goals or less, four of which were overtime triumphs -- than Virginia's 2006 effort that saw the Cavaliers finish with a plus-68 scoring margin while beating 10 teams in LaxPower's final top 15.
Division I lacrosse is hard, more competitive than it has ever been, and the unrelenting nature of the season makes blowing the doors off of opponents over the course of more than a dozen games an inconceivable concept. Teams lose -- even good teams! -- and the Orange's bow to the Irish at Arlotta is a reflection of that. The soul-crushing force of 1976 Cornell, 1990 Syracuse, 1991 North Carolina, 1996 Princeton, or whatever other team comes to mind as an unassailable nightmare has disappeared and isn't likely to be discovered again in even the most insane laboratory.
The Season's Best Finish?
Bryant seemed to have a major Northeast Conference victory in the bag against St. Joseph's: With 1:50 remaining in regulation, Collins Gantz converted a Shane Morrell helper into a bucket, giving the Bulldogs a two-goal lead at home. Then the Hawks went into a sociopathic rampage: Mike Lanham won the draw ensuing from Gantz's goal and, out of a timeout, Pat Swanick rammed in a tally on a Mike Rastivo assist with 1:10 showing on the scoreboard; Bryant won the next faceoff on a Lanham violation, but blew the possession via a caused turnover out of a timeout, allowing the Hawks to clear and convert the game-tying goal with six seconds left in regulation on a man-up marker from Rastivo that started in Swanick's crosse; Lanham then won the next faceoff and Ryan McGee -- with only a tick left on the clock -- blew the bean past Gunnar Waldt for the victory.
Three goals in 1:50, two of which game in a five-second span with a half-dozen seconds left in regulation. St. Joseph's won when they shouldn't have, and it took almost an NCAA record to get the job done (VMI owns the record for fastest consecutive team goals at four seconds). Taylor Wray summed up the situation pretty well:
"You have to get a little lucky, but I think you also need to create some of your own luck by making hustle plays and staying in the moment. We did that today."
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"That's as wild a finish to a game as I have ever been a part of," added Wray. "I give Bryant a lot of credit. They played a terrific game. To score three goals in the final 70 seconds is really unbelievable."
- North Carolina and Duke put on a show at Fetzer Field on Sunday, a game that didn't seem to want to end despite the finite nature of lacrosse. The Devils held the advantage in the first half, but the second half was a different story: With the scoreboard knotted five times from the 11:14 mark of the third quarter to early in the final period, a three-goal run from the Heels in a 2:17 stretch gave Carolina an insurmountable 15-12 lead. Both teams played with a sense of purpose and strength, even with visible warts, and the game marks both as teams with a capacity to make bones shake.
- Brown is not going away and that should be a cause of concern for any team that has to deal with Bruno in 2015. After a torrid start to the year that featured the Bears ripping off five straight wins with average margin of victory of over eight goals per game, Brown suffered an overtime loss to Bucknell and were pressed into extra time by Marist just last week. A strong victory over Princeton in New Jersey seems to have pivoted Brown back to its status as a threat -- building a five-goal lead against the Tigers late in the game is impressive, even if Princeton was able to erode its deficit over a two-minute stretch late in the final quarter. Bruno can ball, and the team's April 11th meeting with Yale in New Haven could foretell a May adventure for the team (the Bears have not made an NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009).