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.
The HAMtriot League
The Patriot League refuses to stop. There is something in its charter that mandates that conference games must do insane things or else the league would need to shut down and go into the upholstery business. The difference between first and last in the conference is just one defeat in the loss column with eight of the league's nine members within one win of each other (four of the league's teams have played three conference games already while the remaining five have played two). The crazy depth in the conference -- maybe lacking on an external level but highly potent on an internal level -- has yielded a host of fun results at the sunrise of the season, and this past weekend provided even more lunacy.
- The Terriers raised some eyebrows when the team hung with Lehigh for four quarters and walked out of Ulrich with a 10-9 loss a few weeks ago. The good feelings that Boston University created with that effort, though, seemed to erode after a three-goal loss to Providence four days later, marking the Terriers as a team that may have had a good run and nothing more against a solid conference opponent. This week's performance against Colgate, however, may have signaled Boston University as a team that has the potential to shake things up in an already hectic league: The team took a 10-9 lead at the 6:02 mark of the third quarter, earning an advantage that the team would not relinquish to the Raiders over the last 21:02 of play. In that closing stretch the Terriers popped for eight goals while yielding only two to Colgate. A manageable date stands ahead of Boston University this coming weekend -- the Terriers host Lafayette -- but things quickly accelerate for Boston University after meeting the Leopards: Bucknell, Navy, Army, Harvard, Loyola, Holy Cross, and Duke are on the horizon, not to mention the Patriot League Tournament.
- It has been a season of firsts for Holy Cross: The Crusaders earned their first win over a ranked opponent in the team's victory against Loyola and this past weekend Holy Cross locked in their first win ever against Army. The Black Knights were 24-0 against Holy Cross, but the Crusaders kicked history right in the mouth against the Cadets in Worcester on Saturday en route to a massive one-goal victory against a stingy and capable Army team. The Black Knights suffered a miserable offensive effort against the Crusaders, shooting only 15.38 percent while committing 11 turnovers on an estimated 30 offensive opportunities. Exacerbating Army's offensive woes was a defensive effort that saw Holy Cross shoot close to 30 percent while holding a mild possession advantage. The residue of all of this, of course, is that the Crusaders are tied for first in the Patriot League (2-1) with two major league wins in Army and Loyola, assets that should help maintain Holy Cross' conference portfolio.
- Bucknell (a) got the game-tying goal with 26 seconds remaining in regulation on a Connor O'Hara bucket (with help from David Dickson), (b) got the game-winning goal with nine seconds remaining in overtime on a Ryan Joseph goal (with an assist from Sean Doyle), and (c) the game-winning goal was the Bison's first lead of the game since the 1:07 mark of the first quarter. So, this, basically:
I'm Kind of Important
The season passed the one-third pole this past weekend, knocking out a milestone moment of the year in which things start to compress and opportunities are heightened. Massive nonconference games have not disappeared from the radar, but the heat behind these types of games is hotter given the necessity to build NCAA Tournament resumes and generate momentum toward April and May.
- Down 10-7 going into the fourth period, the Pioneers weren't dead but Denver was facing a difficult situation. Notre Dame had shot 50 percent in the game's first 45 minutes and had constructed a lead despite playing at a slight possession deficit. The potential for the Irish to rip through Denver's defense while deflating pace and forcing the Pioneers to work faster than they are accustomed to was a legitimate concern for the Pios. Instead, Denver pragmatically rallied: A man-up goal from Zach Miller got Denver going just five minutes into the final period; the Pioneers struck again 30 seconds later with an unassisted Connor Cannizzaro tally; and Denver finally pulled square on a Zach Miller hammer with 1:19 left in regulation. The Irish were muted in the quarter, taking only four shots and committing three turnovers while winning just one draw and creating two clearing opportunities. Those 15 minutes of play may define what kind of team Denver becomes in 2015, if only because it turned a suffocating situation into one of great power.
- The worst thing that you can do when thinking about Duke is believe that the Devils are dead. Facing a one-goal hole after Zach Herreweyers gave Loyola its first lead of the game at the 12:17 mark of the third quarter, Duke exploded: Holding the 'Hounds scoreless for the last 27:17 of play, the Devils pounded home seven unanswered goals with Myles Jones and Deemer Class running murderously through the midfield (Jones popped for four goals in the burst while Class chipped in three buckets in the rush). That is angry lacrosse. It's not like the Greyhounds are a fraudulent team: The Blue Devils took out a hammer and decided to rearrange Loyola's skull. Duke is as strong as any team currently finding a residence ahead of the Devils in the national polls, and the Devils have the opportunity to show their muscle in an upcoming stretch of Syracuse-North Carolina-Notre Dame-Virginia.
- Cornell-Virginia may ultimately feature one of the most hectic finishes of 2015. Down six with 2:54 to play, the Red exploded for five goals in a two-minute stretch -- Matt Donovan generated three points in the burst -- to draw Cornell perilously close to dropping Virginia in Charlottesville. That's . . . good God. As our sister site Streaking the Lawn notes,"Face-offs nearly doomed the Cavaliers once more. During Cornell's run of five goals in three minutes, Domenic Massimilian won four draws. Massimilian was 23-of-32 for the day (71.9 percent), but Murphy came up big on the game's most important face-off late." POP! POP! POP! Cornell's recap of the game highlights the details:
That's when Cornell made its final push, as Massimilian won the restart and Lord scored on a nearly impossible angle off a pass from Donovan. Moments later, Donovan tallied back-to-back goals to make it a 15-12 game with 1:48 to play. Massimilian won the face-off and a Cavalier penalty led to a man-up goal from Lintner with 1:04 on the clock. Another face-off win by Massimilian gave Cornell one last possession and Hogan converted off a pass from Edmonds to make it 15-14 with 34 ticks remaining.
- Princeton-Maryland was this, basically: